Ivo's Blog

Should you worry about cockroaches in Costa Rica?

by Ivo Henfling

Should you worry about cockroaches in Costa Rica?When I moved to Costa Rica  a while ago, the last thing that came to my mind were cockroaches in my house. The first cockroach I met in Costa Rica was in my house in the Santa Ana mountains and the animal was huuuuge. I’m not so crazy about insects, but they really don’t bother me much, unless the bite me. That’s when I fight back. 

Some of my readers hate it when I write about topics like cockroaches, but if you want to live in Costa Rica, you either have to get used to them or find a way of getting rid of them. So apologize for the topic, but here we go.

I had never thought cockroaches did exist that large as my hand. But in Costa Rica, you have many types of cockroaches and they each need a different type of fumigation if you have them in your house. 

Our last tenant left our rental apartment full of cockroaches and they’ve been almost impossible to kill. It seems she brought the eggs with her when she moved from another building. Only by fumigating over and over again can you get rid of them and we’re still at it, many months later. These cockroaches are what they call the German cockroach and they’re VERY difficult to get rid of.

Is there enough storage in a Costarican home for sale?

by Ivo Henfling

Is there enough storage in a Costarican home for sale?Have you ever walked out of a house that you were looking to purchase thinking “great house, but too many closets”?

I’m sure you have all this “stuff”, we call them “chunches” in Costa Rica. El “cuarto de chunches” is the room where you stick all the stuff that you don’t need. I’m sure you have one of those too. 

When looking to purchase a home in Costa Rica, unless you only bring a hammock with you, you need to look at the storage space available and the amount of stuff you’re planning to bring with you when you move.

In Europe, houses have cellars, which is where you put away all your belongings that you do not need every day. In the US, most people use their garage as a storage room and leave the cars on the driveway. 

7 Reasons to be an ugly American in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

There are ugly Americans (and I don’t mean physically ugly) everywhere, not only in Costa Rica. The 1958 novel turned into the 1963 movie with Marlon Brandon has made such a deep impression to mankind that the name “the ugly American” stuck on everyone’s mind.

Well, I got news for you: we also have ugly Germans, Canadians, Chinese, Dutch, Nicaraguans and most every nation on earth in Costa Rica. Costaricans, even though they’re an easy going bunch, also have their share of ugly people. Luckily, we have more happy people than ugly people in Costa Rica.

Most people are ugly for a reason. Some had a mom or a dad who was ugly and others have become ugly through some bad experience in life. Others become ugly because of some bad experience they had in Costa Rica. Society creates ugly people and the more a country develops, the uglier its people become.

Today, I’d like to get into the Ugly American issue, or better said the ugly foreigner, and how not to become one of them. To most Ticos, no matter which country you come from, you’re a Gringo. So for this blog’s sake, let’s change the name Ugly American into Ugly Gringo.

Isa is retiring from Atenas real estate and Marian replaces her

by Ivo Henfling

Isa is retiring from Atenas real estate and Marian replaces her“OMG” I said when Isa told me a year ago that she was planning to retire from real estate in about a year. “Bad idea. Now I have to find another agent to cover Atenas as well as you did, which is not going to be so easy”.

I had been on my face when hiring new agents before we got Isabelle Jones as our new Atenas real estate agent on board and the last agent who “abandoned me” after training was for the La Garita in Alajuela. Dany, my wife, said “aren’t you getting tired of finding new agents, training them and start all over as soon as they start working on their own”? 

It’s common that once agents are fully trained, they go on their own, because real estate is not licensed in Costa Rica and there is no obligation to work under a broker. But with Isa, things were quite different.

Isa came on board as our new Atenas real estate agent on January 2005 when I sold Dr. Douglas Benn and his wife a house in Atenas, “thank you Douglas”, who moved from Gainesville Florida, which was before highway 27 was open. They fell in love at first sight with the spec house Isa and husband Howard had built in Vista Atenas, rented it for one week to get the money in place and close on the purchase immediately. 

Costa Rican Construction Standards

by Tom Rosenberger

Installation of plumbing tubes so shower sprays are above your headMany expats who are considering buying a house in Costa Rica ask "What are the Local Construction Standards?" Are the standard building materials and installation methods that the majority of the people who grew up in Costa Rica are accustomed to the same as yours? 

If you have not spent much time in Costa Rica, you may not initially notice the lack of amenities that you have taken for granted your whole life. Many times it isn't until after a foreigner has purchased a house here, and has lived in it for a while, that they realize how different the local construction standards are.

Local contractors in Costa Rica, pay much less attention to details and the average Costa Rican feels that many of the amenities that foreigners take for granted are extravagant and unnecessary, such as:

For your information, we have lots of volcanoes in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

For your information, we have lots of volcanoes in Costa RicaWhen I started selling real estate in Costa Rica, roads were less crowded and we were very few real estate agents in Costa Rica. It was necessary to take listings that were within 5 hours drive from your real estate office if you ever wanted to sell anything. 

Since I used to supervise my sales people when I owned a spice packing company in Escazu, I got to know the country very well, much better than most locals, which helped me a lot in my real estate career.

My very first sale was a Dutch owned property located in Liberia. Back then, to get there was just under 3 ½ hours. On the day that I closed that sale at a lawyer’s office in Liberia, I showed a farm in Turrialba to another client in the afternoon; just to give you an idea of how easy traffic was at the time.

Another client bought a farm from me in the Los Santos Valley, and I made him swear not to ask me to sell the property again, because of the long drive to get there. And guess what happened……

Do your eyes see a different Costa Rica than your spouse does?

by Ivo Henfling

Do your eyes see a different Costa Rica than your spouse does? As we all know, men and women see things differently, though they’re both looking at the same thing. It’s one of those things that make a marriage interesting! But when you live in Costa Rica or when you are planning to do so in the future, those differences can become serious matter for unhappiness and even for divorce. 

If you have been married for many years, you usually know each other well, weaknesses and strengths, likes and dislikes. While doing your due diligence for moving to Costa Rica, are you both seeing the same attractions, the same advantages and the same disadvantages of moving to another country and another culture? You probably don’t, even though you’re convinced you are and that is what today’s blog is all about.

In Costa Rica, in case you didn’t know, the locals speak Spanish, have a Latin American culture and think very different from what you are used to. Where things have logic in their minds, they might not have any logic to you at all. While you would resolve a problem one way, they might resolve the same problem a completely different way. Who said your way is the correct one? 

The solution to Costa Rica’s high product prices

by Ivo Henfling

The solution to Costa Rica’s high product pricesOn April 8, 2015 the Costa Rica News published a real interesting article titled “The real reason behind Costa Rica’s high product prices”, about the fact that Costarican produced products are cheaper in neighboring countries than in Costa Rica itself, even though there is a high cost of transport. 

This article explains that commercial protectionism of certain Costarican industries, high import tax on foreign products, mostly giants like Dos Pinos (milk products) and Pipasa (chicken and meat products, fresh and frozen) make it possible to charge a much higher price for their products in Costa Rica and export cheaper to neighboring countries.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Costa Rica has become more expensive than it was a couple of years ago. Nobody moves to Costa Rica anymore because it’s so cheap to live here, there are other countries that offer a much lower cost of living. Costa Rica offers many other advantages, about which I’ve written plenty of blogs. BUT, there are ways to save a lot of money that you might not realize, which I’d like to do today, give you a solution to Costa Rica’s high product prices. 

Atenas Park Benches for rent or is a vacation rental better?

by Ivo Henfling

Atenas Park Benches for rentAtenas homes for rent are the hottest item this season. If you are looking to rent a home in Atenas - Costa Rica you need to reserve on time, please do so. If you don’t, you will have use a bench in the park of Atenas. Atenas has a very nice park, mind you, but those benches are all concrete and not very comfortable.

GoDutch Realty usually doesn’t get involved in homes for rent very much. There are several reasons for that, but this time I won’t get into that. Atenas is really the only location in the Central Valley where we really do a lot of rentals and they’re almost all occupied for this high season.

Last week I received an email that said “We are still in the area and could rent for one week but it has to be between tomorrow and March 28”. So it was either a bench in the park, a B & B or a hotel. If you are looking to rent a home in Atenas for this high season, I really have to disappoint you. In case you didn’t reserve your Atenas vacation home in time, we can still rent you a bench in the park.

Russian property buyers interested in Costa Rica?

by Kirill Blazheev

Russian property buyers interested in Costa Rica?Recently, GoDutch Realty Costa Rica has been able to secure an alliance with us at Tranio.com, the largest directory of overseas property for international buyers. Tranio offers property for sale worldwide in over 30 countries, which will make the Costa Rica real estate listings more accessible to a more ample market.

Tranio holds top positions in Google as well as in Yandex, which is a leading search engine for the Russian Market. Our alliance will allow GoDutch Realty a much different portal to showcase Costa Rica property for sale and we are looking forward to our new relationship.

We have a large inventory of overseas properties for sale at a wide range of prices and we also have a section dedicated to the luxury real estate. Here we advertise the most prestigious real estate in sought-after regions like chalets in the Alps, penthouses in Manhattan, castles in France and Germany, villas in the French Riviera, mansions in London and now luxury vacation & retirement homes in Costa Rica.