Costa Rica Real Estate Blog

Piropos or catcalling in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Piropos or catcalling in Costa RicaLast week, in my blog on Machismo in Costa Rica, I told you a bit about piropos or cat calling. They are like pick-up lines in English. A piropo is the Latin American way of giving another person a complement and they are a tradition in Costa Rica, like it or not. Originally, machismo would allow only men to give women a piropo, but with society having changed and making acceptable what was not before, you will hear piropos now from women to men, men to men and women to women, and why not? Isn’t it nice to have someone say something real nice to you?

Piropos are supposed to be romantic, which is what Latin Americans generally are a lot more than Caucasians but they can also be very offensive. Caucasians, I guess due to the Lutheran upbringing, are generally not romantic, so we’re not used to say piropos or to receive them. Depending on the education though, piropos can vary tremendously; they go from romantic to humorous to daring to sexy.  It is a way for men to pay a beautiful woman their compliments.  There is a huge amount of piropos that don’t pass because of their vulgarity though.

Why is MacGyvering a must in Costa Rica?

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

Why is McGyvering a must in Costa Rica?In this blog, I’d like to recount an experience I had recently that is indicative of the way you’ll find product availability in this country. My story is about buying lumber. It is not particularly important taken at its face, but it exemplifies why “MacGyvering” is so prevalent, even a way of life here, why you may sometimes wonder why Ticos are resigned to settling for the second-best solution and, perhaps, why Costa Ricans can be counted among the world’s most patient people.

If you were to buy wood for a project in North America, you’d most likely head to the lumberyard or big box building materials store. There you would find a wide selection of all kinds, sizes and lengths of lumber. Except for EPA, there aren’t many big box stores in Costa Rica and the local ferreterias will typically have even fewer choices, some carry no lumber at all.

Machismo in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Machismo in Costa RicaMachismo is part of the Latin American culture and though education and travel are changing this gender gap, you will still see a lot of machismo in the lower and middle social classes in Costa Rica. But what is machismo?

Machismo is a concept of masculine pride, associated with men feeling very manly and at the same time denigrating feminine or less masculine characteristics or behavior. Macho is a Spanish word and in the Merriam – Webster encyclopedia is explained as having or showing qualities (such as very noticeable strength and aggression) that agree with traditional ideas about what men are like : manly or masculine in a very noticeable or exaggerated way, something you will have to learn with when living in Costa Rica.

Machismo is part of the Latin culture; therefore machismo is very visible in Costa Rica, even though you will find a lot of it in other cultures as well. For many men, having power over women, keeping them in line by control, treating them as a servant and even getting to the point of violence is part of machismo.

How to obtain your Costa Rica driver's license when having a residency ID

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

How to obtain your Costarican driver's license when having a residency IDNearly all obstacles to our residency in Costa Rica are in the rear-view mirror except for the matter of getting our Costa Rican driver’s licenses. If you have a current/valid driver’s license from your home state or province, this should be one of the easiest items to tick off your list, but Costa Rica’s bureaucracy has one more little gotcha’ in store.

It’s probably another case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. The latest policy in effect at COSEVI, Costa Rica’s department of motor vehicles, states that Costa Rican driver’s licenses cannot be issued until one has their cedula de residencia and their 90-day entry visa has expired. There is no logical reason, I can see, behind making you wait until, at least, the 91st day before allowing you to get your license.

For first-time license applicants, your initial driver’s license must be obtained at COSEVI headquarters in the La Uruca district of San Jose about three kilometers from the Migración offices and a reasonably long drive from many gringo bastions of habitation.

Smoking in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Smoking in Costa RicaYou cannot smoke in public places in Costa Rica. If you are a smoker, you are only allowed to smoke in your own private home or on the public street. Costa Rica congress promoted a ban on smoking in February 2012 that was signed on March 22nd, 2012 by Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla.

Malls, shopping centers, restaurants, bars, casinos and every public place you go, you need to walk to the public road to have a smoke. This law prohibits smoking in public places as well as any advertising by the tobacco companies. The tobacco companies now also have to put preventive warning on the cigarette packages, which they have been doing in most countries in the world for a long time.

How Ticonuevo got his Dimex residency card in Costa Rica

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

Costa Rica Dimex Residency CardOur “moving-to-Costa-Rica” travails are pretty much behind us. Our recent focus has been getting our DIMEX residency cards (cedulas de residencias) making us official full-time retired residents of Costa Rica. It was the biggest item and the one that has also taken the longest, has just been completed. It has taken far longer than we planned to make this a reality. Since I covered some of this more than a year ago, I’ll recap the “before” and “during” highlights for you here.

We were referred to an immigration lawyer and had our first appointment to see her the day after we arrived at the end of February 2013. Our lawyer presented all of the required apostiled documents and copies of other docs shortly thereafter to Costa Rican immigration and we were approved for the process of being granted “pensionado” residency status, being given an in-process letter and number in May 2013.

An Orosi Valley real estate can of worms

by Ivo Henfling

An Orosi Valley real estate can of wormsI’d like to introduce you to a couple of Orosi Valley real estate agents: Carol and BF Wilkinson of Land and Homes in Costa Rica who I referred a client to, who was not happy at all, and they didn’t pay me the referral fee we agreed on. Why do I write about it?

Not because I’m starving to death because they didn’t pay me almost $1,500 real estate referral commission that was rightly mine, but to show you what can happen when you deal with the wrong  Orosi real estate agent. The worst part of it all is that I referred those buyers to agents I had never done business with and after this adventure never will again!

As you know, I am not only owner of GoDutch Realty but also coordinator of the American European real estate network with 29 real estate agents from coast to coast. I was contacted by clients, who we will call the Joneses in this blog, who were looking for their piece of paradise in Costa Rica real estate and who I would like to apologize to publicly for such a terrible referral.

Our tips for moving to Costa Rica

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

Our tips for moving to Costa RicaI titled this blog, “our tips for moving to Costa Rica” it easily could have been titled “our moving nightmare.” It seems that even when you are careful, get recommendations and follow expert advice, everything still can go to heck in a hand basket.

As I have already covered some of our moving to Costa Rica experiences in my previous blogs, I will skip over much of the detail and just hit a few of the relevant “lowlights.” Even though we were careful and went by the book, there are things happened to us that you may be able to avoid.

After soliciting moving quotes, we selected an experienced Costa Rican international mover given to us by a trusted “recommender.” This C.R. mover was bonded as was their U.S. agent that packed us in California. (We wanted to insure our load and bonded agents are required to allow the client’s possessions to be insured while stored and in transit.)

Costa Rica lost the game and is still happy

by Ivo Henfling

Costa Rica lost the game and is still happyIt is no wonder Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world or better said, the highest life satisfaction in the world. Even when they lose their game against Holland in the quarter finals of the world cup Brasil 2014, the Ticos hit the streets and will be partying until they drop. I started writing this blog before the exciting soccer game Holland – Costa Rica and just had to re-write it as I never expected Costa Rica to lose by penalties. Costa Rica again played 120 minutes without receiving one goal. They lost by penalties…….but they’re still heroes.

I know, a lot of you are more into American Football, Baseball, Basketball or Hockey, but if you want to live in Costa Rica, you should know that soccer is more important than religion and you should learn to enjoy and be happy even when you lose the most important game in your life. Ticos know how to do that. In this blog, I'll post some photos that show how happy they can be.

Someone wrote me an email last week, saying “Next Saturday is bound to be conflicted for you at the World Cup. Are you going to root for your beloved adopted country or your native one? Or are you going to hide in the bedroom until it's all over?”

Low cost of labor makes it affordable in Costa Rica

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

Low labor cost makes it affordable in Costa RicaIn this blog, I will cover some specific examples of shopping for items and services that are inexpensive by comparison between Costa Rica and North America. Pretty much every inexpensive good or service mentioned in this blog is a result of Costa Rica having such a low cost of labor. There are many more solutions that involve a high percentage of labor compared with a smaller percentage of raw materials; putting the resulting cost below that of getting it made or repaired farther up North.

In the States, we always wished that we could afford a housekeeper. We just never could find a way to fit it into our budget, even if only twice a month. Here we are retired in Costa Rica and it wouldn’t it be nice to finally be able to give my wife and me a break, eliminate the sweat and drudgery, and free up our time for more creative and productive endeavors—well, we can and do. Not just twice a month, but Kathy comes every week for a monthly expense of less than one domestic helper’s visit in the States.