Costa Rica Real Estate Blog

Same sex couples in Costa Rica can now insure each other through CAJA

by Ivo Henfling

Same-sex couples in Costa Rica now Caja insured

Although Costa Rica is way behind on a few human right issues like the “in vitro” case, the CAJA has been able to make a huge change in their rules and regulations. 

On November 19, 2014, the CAJA (Social Security system in Costa Rica) has approved the proposal to reform article 10 of the Health Insurance regulation that changes the concept of partnership. With this change, partners of the same sex are included in the same conditions as heterosexual partners have.

This change is a huge advantage to gay couples who plan to move to Costa Rica or are already living here. By Costarican immigration law, every foreigner who wants to be a Costa Rica resident needs to be registered at the CAJA showing his/her own income and each has to make the monthly CAJA payment. Once this change is fully approved, not having to pay CAJA for two constitutes a huge saving.

Ever heard of Christopher Howard’s famous Live in Costa Rica tours?

by Ivo Henfling

Too many property buyers end up running all over the country without having a clue where to purchase a vacation home or retirement home in Costa Rica.

You have heard friends or family talk about how wonderful Costa Rica is and wouldn’t it be great to own a 2nd home or vacation home there? Or imagine buying your retirement home in that exotic country that is only a few hours away from your family?

Unfortunately, many don’t know where to get started and the venture becomes a blur. Imagine dreaming about living in Florida. But where would you buy a home in Florida? Maybe you’d buy on the South Florida Atlantic Coast or on the North Florida Atlantic Coast? Or you might think that the Florida Panhandle or the Florida Gulf Coast give you better options?


Sidewalks in Costa Rica are different

by Ivo Henfling

Sidewalks in Costa Rica are differentA sidewalk in Costa Rica? What’s that, a sidewalk? Who needs a sidewalk anyway? Costaricans don’t use sidewalks, even if they have one. 

Costaricans walk on the road, mostly for lack of sidewalks or sidewalks with too many obstacles. A few weeks ago, I wrote about obstacles on the roads of Costa Rica and this blog is all about obstacles you might find when walking on a sidewalk. You will find lamp posts, trees, power posts, advertising signs, billboards, fences, garages and the most incredible objects cross your path on a side walk in Costa Rica.  I have been in many cities in the US where they don’t have sidewalks either, because people don’t walk, they drive. But in Costa Rica, many people walk and jog and walk the dog. If you are in a wheelchair or you want to the baby in the stroller, you're in for a treat.

Walking in Costa Rica is not an easy task and if you plan to practice jogging, think twice. Escazu, where I live for example as well as many other communities in Costa Rica, has no sidewalks on more than half the streets. To have space for a sidewalk, you need planning. And planning is not what they do well in Costa Rica

Try tango, wine and bife de chorizo in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Aqui Es, an Argentinian steakhouse in San JoseI had never heard of this Argentinian restaurant in San Jose, though I had driven past it many times. I don’t go to San Jose that often anymore, but it looks like the city is becoming a good place for great restaurants again. One in a while, when I find a good restaurant that is worth writing about, I will tell you all about it here.

Last time we went to an Argentinian restaurant was to La Esquina de Buenos Aires, where we had great food and a lovely evening. This time, our friends suggested going to Restaurante Aqui Es, which means “Here it is”.

The restaurant is really easy to find, it is 100 meters south of Subway restaurant on Paseo Colon. You can either park on the street, where there is a guachiman or half a block further south is a 24/7 parking lot. If you are not used to Tico addresses, turn onto Paseo Colon from Sabana Park, take a 2nd right (at Subway) and you’ll see it at the end of the block on the left. Reservations at phone 2221-5727.

Costa Rica property tax

by Ivo Henfling

Costa Rica property taxCosta Rica property tax or “impuesto sobre los Bienes Inmuebles” is calculated over the registered value of your property in the municipality where the property is located.

The percentage of the annual property tax is 0,25%, as regulated by Law 7509.

Costa Rica property tax runs from the 1st of January until the 31st of December of each year and is paid quarterly. In most municipalities you can request the annual amount in February and pay the whole year with a small discount, depending on the municipality where your property is located.

In Costa Rica you will not get a notice from the government that your property tax is due, like you do in many other countries. YOU have the obligation to know when to pay.

Road Obstacles when driving in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Road obstacles when driving in Costa RicaDriving in Costa Rica can be overwhelming when you first arrive. I compare it to driving in Paris, Rome or Madrid, any Latin American city in Europe. It’s mainly the lack of discipline that turns roads into a madhouse, especial at peak hours. We all want to get to our destination as soon as possible, even if we have to break all the rules simultaneously if we have to. We don’t pay any attention to road signs and road markings; this is the wild, wild west for anyone not used to drive in Costa Rica. 

Costaricans are very nice and easy going people, but once they hold a steering wheel in their hands, they’ll go nuts. Since they are always running late, which we call Tico Time, they try to recover lost time on the road. Doing so, they will do anything that is not allowed, no matter how crazy it sounds.

Now, don’t run scared now, if you follow my articles, you will be aware of many of the obstacles you will find, the weird actions that some drivers take and the mistakes made by road planners. In no time, you will be either a careful driver or as crazy as the locals are when driving a car.

What is a chorizo in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

What is a chorizo in Costa Rica?Most people know a chorizo as a sausage made of minced meat and spices, usually dark red or brown and of elongated cylindrical shape. In Costa Rica we have two types of chorizo, a legal one and an illegal one. 

Most butchers in Costa Rica make their own chorizo or sausage, some good and some bad. You just have to try them out in different places. Some grocery stores have real good ones; it just depends on the recipe. But that’s not what my blog is all about today.

Today, I will explain all about the other chorizo, a cultural habit that used to be very accepted in Costa Rica but now rejected by many. This other chorizo has nothing to do with a sausage. This chorizo is a bribe, a kick-back or an illegal business transaction. The person who commits the act of the chorizo is a chorizero (chorizera when female) and the plural form of a chorizo is chorizos. A chorizero can also be a person who sells just anything he can get his hands on and . Jaquemate, a well-known Costarican band produced the song El Chorizero in 1983, click here to see the video.  

American Football in Costa Rica sports bars

by Rudy Matthews

Where to watch American Football in Costa RicaThere are a lot of die-hard American football fans in Costa Rica. I have to admit I belong to that group and when not working will be at a sports place - restaurant watching a game. Some places are great because they have the ability to show 2-3 games playing at the same time schedule. And most serve you real good burgers as a bonus.

Also now many restaurants have installed televisions and games can be seen. Even Denny’s restaurant by the airport has multiple televisions and if you can afford Denny’s prices you can catch a game. I would like to share with you some of the places I go and perhaps you can check them out and if you go to a place not mentioned here you can share. 

Fiesta Casino - Alajuela

The casino has a sports bar-restaurant that if in America would be packed every Sunday. There are many televisions and there are big and medium screens. They can show a variety of games at the same time and you can request what game you want and they try to show those games.

The Costa Rica Asada Saga

by guest blogger Pablo R.

Water certification needed for building permitsMy wife, Katya, and I speak some Spanish (though probably not enough).  Still, we thought we knew the word “asada.”  It meant “roasted” and frequently modified “carne” or, in a masculine form, “pollo.”  Who knew that “asada” also means “local water administration?”  Well, now we do, and therein hangs a tale. Here it is (though I offer a strong caution that we aren’t sure we understand it completely, so ask Ivo or a lawyer!):

The area where we bought land, Hacienda Atenas, supplies water from a joint local well.  We pay a monthly fee to the water association for the water we get.  Their association, known as an “ASADA,” is currently informal in nature.  It has not officially registered with the Costa Rican government.

Apparently, it’s been like that for years.  And, apparently, for years that’s been OK.  But it seems that there was a law passed (who knew) many years ago requiring all “informal” Asadas to register with the government and become formalized.  And, lo and behold, the deadline for that registration was September 1st, 2014.

How to get a Costa Rica mailing address

by Ivo Henfling

Costa Rica mailing addressYou are living in Costa Rica and you need a mailing address, which seems like a simple task at hand. Well, it can be, depending on how easy you want to make it yourself.

Most everything you pay for online, will not allow you the space on the order form that you need. Some mailing addresses in Costa Rica will take up three or more lines, since we don’t have normal street names and house numbers.

So it’s easier to understand what I’m saying, my own official home address is as follows:  300 norte, 25 este de Centro Comercial Paco, primera casa mano izquierda con tapia blanca, San Rafael de Escazu. And I can assure you that my mailing address is a lot easier than many. When I really need to mail something, it would have to be sent to PO Box 287, 1250 Escazu, Costa Rica.

When I pay for something online though, the system won’t allow me to fill out my PO box and my street address won’t fit in the order form. So I invented my own mailing address: Multiplaza 1, Escazu.