Ivo's Blog

Motorcycles and you together on the roads of Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Motorcycles on the roads of Costa RicaIn Costa Rica, motorcycles come out of nowhere in traffic. Motorcycle riders in Costa Rica have no respect for traffic laws; double yellow lines and traffic lights are non-existent. They will get right in front of you at the traffic light, zigzag between cars and use the sidewalks for shortcuts.

Driving in Costa Rica can be a challenge, just like it is in other Latin countries. If you have driven in France, Spain, Italy, Nigeria, Morocco or South Africa or in South Florida, then driving in Costa Rica is a piece of cake. You just need to pay a little bit attention to what is going on around you, especially the motorcycles. Do before you drive off, adjust all your mirrors to avoid blind spots and you’ll be safe, if you use them.

A motorbike is for transport, right? Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean the transportation of people, who said it does? In Costa Rica, a motorbike could be used for transportation of about anything that comes to mind, as you can see in all the photos I’m posting in this blog, a picture is better than a thousand words.

Costaricans always smell good

by Ivo Henfling

Costaricans always smell goodYou can smell a Costarican at any time of the day, men and women alike, they always smell good, as opposed to some other varieties of humans.

Now, you will probably say that you always smell good too and that you’re not a Costarican. That means you’ve either been living in Costa Rica long enough to learn the art of bathing or you have a sinus problem.

You might say this is a weird topic, but feel free to spend some time at the International Airport Juan Santamaría and walk past the lines of people waiting to check in on a flight to Europe. You’ll quickly find out how some travelers smell like after a 3-week vacation in tropical Costa Rica wearing the same clothing every day.

I just got back from visiting my mom in Holland and we’re walking through this small grocery store in the seaport of Zeebrugge, Belgium, eager to purchase some Belgian waffles and chocolate as well as some fruit. There is this man in the vegetable and fruit department, taking his time to find the fruit to his liking, who smelled like he’d not seen a shower in the last couple of days.

Does your Costa Rica listing agent pay attention to the bathroom listing photos?

by Ivo Henfling

How important are good bathroom photos in Costa Rica real estate?I’m a Costa Rica listing agent myself but I am always surprised about the photos some listing agents post on their website.  Is the listing agent really interested in selling the property advertised or is it a joke?

When you hire a Costa Rica listing agent when in the market to purchase a property in Costa Rica, you want to make sure you hire one who cares about you and looks out for your interest. One who will come up for you when wheeling and dealing with another agent or a seller, to get you not only the best deal, but one who will pay attention to the details. A listing agent who pays attention to the listing photos, usually pays attention to all the details of the transaction too.

I have seen bathrooms that are open and pleasant to be in and I have seen bathrooms that are claustrophobic. Some are elegant with chandeliers and marble while others have enough toilet paper rolls stacked on the toilet to last the rest of the century.

Some have shower curtains that are barely hanging onto the rod and others have an inviting Jacuzzi with an ocean view.

Some have their bathroom so cluttered with bottles, wet towels hanging over the shower door and the toilet lid up and other sellers take the time before the agent takes photos to get rid of the mess that make a bathroom look terrible in a photo.

The helpful Costa Rica home owner

by Ivo Henfling

The helpful Costa Rica home ownerWhen I list a Costa Rica home for sale, I always instruct the home sellers what to do and what not to do when we show their house to a prospect. At least I try to.

A Tico home owner will generally just instruct the housekeeper to let me in. This makes it much easier for a real estate agent because you can ask the house keeper to switch on all the lights and make sure the clutter is gone and disappear into her room when you arrive with the buyer.

A “reminder” phone call 30 minutes before the showing (if you are showing other properties to the same client) will make the house perfect for showing.

A gringo home seller is different.

Most gringo home sellers have carried a real estate license at one time in their life. It doesn’t really matter how many times you ask a gringo owner to not “be there”, “to walk the dog”, “to visit the neighbor”, “to play a round of golf” or “to go to the local bar and get drunk”, the gringo owner wants to help.

What are chunches in Costa Rica?

by Ivo Henfling

What are chunches in Costa Rica?“What about Deco Chunches? That is a name that would work great for your business” I said to my friends.

Years ago, I was just starting to work in Costa Rica real estate, I helped some friends who started a used furniture and decoration store to find a name for their store that people would recognize easier. Their store was selling not only furniture but a lot of decorative stuff and things for the home.

Unfortunately they had to close the store years later, due to “whatever” and the name got lost. But the store became quite known because the name stuck easily and fast with the public since everybody in Costa Rica knows what a chunche is and what chunches are.

Except you probably, but that’s why you’re here, to learn.

How to show your house in Costa Rica for sale if you have a pet

by Ivo Henfling

How to show your house in Costa Rica for sale if you have a petAre you selling your house in Costa Rica and you have pets? Are your pets like a nice and cute Doberman that scare the hell out of most people or maybe a scary poodle that bites you in the ankles when you turn around?  

Or a beautiful Siamese cat who you love so much but jumps a complete stranger in the face as soon as one walks in the door?

A lot of people are allergic to pets. Others are scared to death for pets. If you have pets, you love them, or you wouldn’t have them.

Well, I have some news for you. Not everyone loves pets and a lot of those are potential buyers of your house in Costa Rica. 

13 Tips for the Costa Rica rainy season

by Ivo Henfling

13 Tips for the Costa Rica rainy seasonWould you like to break an arm or a leg when walking into a Costa Rica shopping mall when it rains? I bet you don’t. The rainy season, or the green season as we call it in Costa Rica, is starting soon. When it rains in Costa Rica, it pours, so we all have to learn how to handle this.

In most countries, when you walk into a building, they will have anti-slip tile or rubber mats at the entrance. Don’t expect the same to happen in Costa Rica. If you do, you might break something and you don’t want to sue the mall for the medical expenses. The legal expenses will be higher than the cost of getting your leg fixed. If you do want to sue the mall for medical expenses, you’re in for a long fight.

Last year, when Dany and I were in Miami, I parked my rental car in the parking garage of a building and at the entrance they had this sign as you can see in the photo below that said “Please HELP keep our lobby floors dry. Use our complimentary wet umbrella bags.”

Well, that is the difference in culture between Costa Rica and Florida, where it rains almost as much as it does in here. As you can see, the floors in the building are marble floors and I don’t think they have invented anti-slip marble yet. If you walk into a Costarican shopping mall, you better watch out when entering the mall if your feet are wet.

Drinking habits coming up after retirement in Costa Rica?

by Ivo Henfling

 Drinking habits coming up after retirement in Costa Rica?“Hon, grab me another cold beer from the fridge, will you? God, its hot today and it’s making me thirsty”.  It is only 10:00 am and John is ready for his 2nd beer of the day. What else is there to do for John?  He will probably be drunk before lunch and fall asleep in his arm chair, while trying to find another game on TV. 

You’ll probably ask yourself “what wrong with this guy”? Well, nothing is wrong with John, he’s retired.

Most people who are getting ready for retirement, only dream about the day they’re going to be retired. The day they don’t have to go to work to that boring job they had for all those years. Now it’s time to do something different.

“Let’s move to Costa Rica honey, they say it’s beautiful and the sun shines all the time, and it never gets cold there. You know, we can travel the country, get to know places, and people and enjoy life. Man, just the idea of not having to do anything all day long”.

The plan is a great one; the problem is that the plan becomes even more boring than the job was. At least having that job obliged John to have discipline. Discipline to get up in the morning, get showered, shaved and dressed and get in the car on time to get to work. Mary, the wife, was used to take care of the house, the shopping, the cooking and taking care of the laundry.

Will a homicide in a Costa Rica house for sale be disclosed by your real estate agent?

by Ivo Henfling

Will a homecide in a Costa Rica house for sale be disclosed?“Are you serious? You mean he got killed right here? And you want me to live here?” could be the reproach from a serious buyer who just heard from neighbor peeking over the fence, that the seller’s husband got killed in the house for sale.

People in Costa Rica also die, as you probably already suspected, from a homicide.  Once they die, their family might, or might not put the house up for sale.

The real estate agent probably didn’t have a clue about the homicide issue, unless the agent lived next door. Or unless it was a widely advertised homicide and the agent keeps up with the homicides that happen in Costa Rica, if they are killed in their own house and where they lived exactly. Costa Rica is a small country, but in the barrios where expats live, homicides are not very usual, unless you believe the US embassy in Costa Rica.

You probably have a better chance to be hit by a bus while crossing the street before you will be killed in your own home in Costa Rica!

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.