Costa Rica Real Estate Blog

Prohibition during Easter week in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Prohibition during Easter week in Costa RicaThe United States had Prohibition from 1920 – 1933, promoted by a "dry" crusaders movement and led by rural Protestants and social Progressives in the Democratic and Republican parties.

82 Years later, 26 municipalities in Costa Rica still prohibit the sale of liquor in bars, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and  liquor stores during Thursday and Friday (2nd and 3rd of April 2015) in Easter week. The local police will make sure the liquor department in the grocery stores will be covered and taped off with plastic or some other smart way to stop you from buying it (as shown in photo at the end of this blog) and there will be no beer or other liquor expended anywhere.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you will not see anybody drinking during those days. Those who live in those municipalities prohibiting the sale of liquor during Holy Thursday and Friday will make sure they purchase their rum, whiskey and beer on Wednesday. It is the unsuspecting foreigner who will be in trouble when they run out of their favorite alcoholic drink.

US Embassy security message warns for living in Escazu

by Ivo Henfling

US Embassy security message warns for living in EscazuI was surprised to read a message from the U.S. Embassy in San José, forwarded to me by one of our real estate agents, who is an American citizen. In the message, which you can read at the end of this blog in case you haven’t received it yourself, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica warns all U.S. citizens traveling and living in Escazu, that their safety can be affected due to recent security incidents.

In the month of March, the security message explains, there have been three separate drive-by shootings in Escazu, resulting in the death of two Costa Rican citizens and a serious injury to a U.S. citizen.

I have lived in Escazu for at least 30 of my 35 years in Costa Rica and I have NEVER been shot at. Maybe I am not worth being shot at? Or maybe it’s because I am not a U.S. citizen? Maybe I behave like a normal citizen and I am not involved in the sports book business as one of them was, nor am I involved in drugs dealing even though I am your Marihuana friendly real estate broker in Costa Rica

I have never seen a security message from the Costarican government warning those who travel to Boston to be aware that it can be dangerous there because of the bombings during the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Solo Camaron for shrimp lovers in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Solo Cameron restaurant Costa RicaWe were seriously surprised to find a restaurant with such a varied shrimp menu. I knew the restaurant existed as we had walked by it several times, but from the outside, the place looks like a Johnny Rockets, not inviting enough for me. When I find a restaurant that's worth mentioning because the food, the service or the ambience is worth telling my readership about, I will do so in one of my blogs.

If you're reading this blog and you want to order a takeaway, don't call my office as many people who read my blog do, but call 2228-5981 /  8888-2449

Dany and I had planned to have a nice Peruvian lunch on a Sunday afternoon and went to Plaza Itskatzú, a great strip mall with lots of restaurants in Escazu. The parking lot of the strip mall was packed and we barely found any space. People are either making a lot of money or the credit card companies are.  Walking over to the Peruvian restaurant, we were nicely greeted by a young waiter who invited us to check out the menu. The name of the restaurant: Solo Camaron, which means Only Shrimp. 

We were surprised with the variety on the menu and Dany is a seafood person, so we decided to forget about Peruvian food for now and try the shrimp. The restaurant is not very cozy and very inviting; it looks more like a hamburger joint, which is not my favorite for a nice Sunday afternoon with my wife. 

How to go about tipping in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling
How to go about tipping in Costa RicaYou just arrived at the international airport in Costa Rica. As soon as you walk outside arrivals, 10 guys jump on you, trying to help you with your suitcases. Of course they want to get paid for their services, how much should you pay them?
You’re having a great lunch with friends in this fish restaurant in Jaco Beach and the service is outstanding. Should you tip at all and how much?
Propina is the right word for a tip in Costa Rica. A 10% service charge is customary in most parts of the world. Well, in Costa Rica, the 10% propina is not customary, its LAW.
In all restaurants and bars, the service charge of 10% will show on your invoice as Imp. Servicio and is charged over the total sum of the products consumed. The 13% sales tax (soon to be called IVA) is calculated after the 10% service tax is added. So you pay the sum of the products + 10% + 13%. If you are a real fanatic in finding out more, you can check the law in Spanish by clicking here  

How To Find An Excellent Real Estate Agent In Your Area?

by Daniel Clark

How To Find An Excellent Real Estate Agent In Your Area?When selling your home in Costa Rica, the most important thing is to find a good real estate agent to make the entire process easy and efficient. However, the main question is how to find a good agent who is able to promote your home better than others? 

The best agent may not necessarily work for a large country-wide company. 

However, he or she should have experience and should be knowledgeable about you’re the area your home is located in.  The agent should listen to all your needs and know the market in your area. To make this agent finding process easy, you can follow the tips given below.

Recommendation or referrals

The best real estate agents are successful because have satisfied customers refer them to other clients. When you are thinking of selling your home, it is better to ask your friends, acquaintances or neighbors for reference of a good agent. Successful agents strive to make their customers happy and build strong referral network, an easy and secure way to find an agent with a proven track record and good reputation.  

What is a granizado or copo in Costa Rica?

by Ivo Henfling

What is a granizado or copo in Costa Rica?Summertime in Costa Rica is around the corner although we really have an eternal spring. The December winds are making overtime since we’re almost in Easter week or “Semana Santa” and we still have a lot of winds. It keeps us cool though and nobody needs A/C or even ceiling fans. 
When it does get hot, a great way to stay cool, it’s time for some Tico specialties. A cool thing to do is to buy yourself a “copo”, also called “granizado” or a snow cone. When looking to buy a property in Costa Rica with your realtor, tell your agent you are inviting for a granizado, it will familiarize you with the local customs. 
Most North Americans living in Costa Rica know what a snow cone is but I have never seen snow cones anywhere in Europe. A granizado or copo is shaved ice with colored syrup. In other words, it’s ice cream without the cream. In Costa Rica, you have a choice to add vanilla ice, condensed milk and milk powder, or all three. If you take a copo with all three milk types, they call it a Churchill, like the former UK Prime Minister. The word granizado comes from hail (granizo).

Ticos have flaws, had you noticed?

by ivo Henfling

Ticos have flaws, had you noticed?Costaricans, we call e'm Ticos, have a much different mindset than people from first world countries. I don’t mean that negatively, quite the contrary. After having lived in this beautiful country myself for 35 years, I can only agree with many things they do and the way they take decisions.

Costa Rica is one of the few countries in Latin American that hasn’t gone through a serious civil war. Costa Rica’s civil war lasted only 44 days and I’m under the impression they agreed on their differences in some cantina on the Cerro de la Muerte.

When you live in Costa Rica, it will take you a while to get used to the way things are done by some Ticos. Some still amaze me when I’m confronted with it, most I don’t. This mindset has, I’m sure, a lot to do with the fact that they have not gone through long civil wars, having to live with food shortages and having to try to survive through a lot of suffering.  Thankfully Costa Rica doesn’t have an army either, so many Ticos suffer (or probably not) from a lack of discipline.

Many of the daily decisions taken by Ticos will either be by shortcut or the easy way. If the decision is the wrong one, one day it will be corrected. And if not corrected, we’ll just live with it. 

Water, water everywhere in Costa Rica and not a drop to drink

by guest blogger Pablo R.

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink​When you live in the United States, like we do, you tend to take water for granted. In the 30 years we’ve been living in Washington DC we’ve had a water interruption only once. And the limits of our concern generally are the hope that the pipes won’t freeze at night when the temperature in Washington is well below zero.  It hasn’t ever happened … but sometimes we have to think about it.  And that’s it – otherwise the availability of water is just a background assumption to which we never give a thought.

Not so in Costa Rica. We’ve come to realize that water is vital to our lives and also somewhat problematic in Atenas! Our first problem, which we wrote about in an earlier blog, was a legal one. Our housing subdivision did not have an ASADA, which is a legal authorization to pump water from the community well. Happily that problem seems to have gone away, and our permits have been issued despite the problem. We are happy now to just go with the flow.

But that’s not the only water problem we’ve seen. We were aware, when we bought the house, of the long-standing dispute between Atenas and Grecia – which is where the city’s water comes from.  That, too, seems to have been solved. 

Why do most homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan?

by Ivo Henfling

Why do most homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan?Have you ever wondered why most homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan but have the kitchen enclosed, unless they're built for expats?  I think it’s a matter of culture and Costa Rica is now going through the changes our grandparents went through 30 - 40 years ago. 

Families in Europe and in the US were much larger 40 years ago than they are now and the new generations in Costa Rica have fewer children now too. 

To have a live-in maid or housekeeper in Costa Rica has been quite affordable for many years. The girls and women coming from the rural areas to the city were cheap to hire as a maid for 6 days a week and give them the Sunday off. The high quality educational system in Costa Rica made it possible for those rural women to go to school and they became doctors, nurses and lawyers and were replaced by the refugees from El Salvador and Cuba in the 80’s and later by the Nicaraguans. 

In some families in Costa Rica, the housekeeper is part of the family, but in most the housekeeper is called a maid and has her own space in the house: the kitchen and her room. 

5 reasons to be disappointed about living in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

5 reasons to be disappointed about living in Costa RicaAll that glitters is not gold and some who have moved here found out that is also true for Costa Rica, at least for a few. I personally think it’s terrible to have to live in a place that you hate, no matter where it is, but it happens. 

It’s even worse if you live in a place where you are surrounded by beauty and nice people and you just hate it because there is something not to your liking. Some do not understand that NO PLACE ON EARTH IS PERFECT.

How can anyone get to hate living in Costa Rica? It’s pretty simple; they are disappointed about living in Costa Rica because they didn’t find what they had expected. Being disappointed and not being able to accept that they are stuck in a place they don’t like or even hate, this might turn them into an angry person.

Can you imagine living with an angry person? When I meet people like that, I wish they would just catch a plane to the next place, but it’s not always possible.

There are a few reasons to be disappointed about living in Costa Rica. Let me help you understand those reasons before you make the same mistake so you can take the right decision before you purchase a house in Costa Rica.