Costa Rica Real Estate Blog

A house of cards in Costa Rica real estate?

by Ivo Henfling

A house of cards in Costa Rica real estate?On December 30, I received a call from someone referred to me by a fellow countryman of his. This buyer is interested in a FireSale property in Escazu I have listed and wants to see it on December 31st, New Year’s Eve. 

I was really on vacation as I always close the office on December 18th but I was at home anyway, so I said “what the heck, it’s not a bad idea to make a sale on New Year’s Eve”.  The buyer said he lives in Escazu himself, so it would be an in and out showing anyway.  Yeah right.

Open to offers

The seller listed it originally at $375,000 and had just come down to $349,000, quite a bit under regular market price. The reason he came down so much was because he foreclosed on the former owner and wants to dump it quickly. The seller knows this is an older home that needs some work, mainly in the kitchen and the bathrooms, so he is open to an offer and is even open to some owner financing. 

We are talking here about a 4,600 sq feet home on a ¼ acre of land in Escazu with views of San Jose. Just the land is valued at the municipality at $250K.

The Costa Rica Vehicle Inspection or RITEVE

by Ivo Henfling

The Costa Rica Vehicle Inspection or RITEVEThose who own a vehicle in Costa Rica should know about RITEVE or the Vehicle Inspection in Costa Rica. Why?

If you don’t carry a valid RITEVE sticker on the right side of your windshield, you are bound to receive a ticket and a traffic inspector can confiscate your license plates.

The Riteve sticker, the Marchamo sticker and the 3rd license plate are the three stickers you should worry about having it always up to date in Costa Rica if you don’t want to run into trouble with the law.


Costarican traffic law obliges every vehicle owner in Costa Rica to have the vehicle inspected once a year by Riteve, to ensure that the vehicle complies with the safety standards and traffic regulations of Costa Rica and those established by the manufacturer to be able to circulate. 

No passing zones in Costa Rica are more dangerous than you think

by Ivo Henfling

No passing zones in Costa Rica are more dangerous than you think

I have written quite a few blogs about driving in Costa Rica and strange and funny things you might find on the roads of Costa Rica and show you that driving in Costa Rica can be a challenge. Today’s turn is for the no-passing zone and the lack of it.

Como, qué dice? A no-passing zone? What’s that?

Ticos don’t think that pavement markings are important, or what they are there for. They just don’t exist, even if they do. Or nobody pays any attention to them.

In Escazu, they have re-paved quite a few roads about a year ago and they are still without markings, I imagine because they ran out of money. Or maybe they don’t know we need them. Today, I was waiting in front of a traffic light and when I pulled up when it turned green, it turned out we were 4 lines of cars waiting in what normally are 2 lanes. Since there are no pavement markings, drivers just keep making new lines until they’re covering even the sidewalk.

Put a lock on your house in Costa Rica when you go on vacation

by Ivo Henfling

Put a lock on your house in Costa Rica when you go on vacationIt is summertime again in Costa Rica and that means trips to the beaches and national parks for those who live here. For sure, you will have family and friends from back home visiting. They will want you to take them to see Lake Arenal and the Poas Volcano or maybe even a couple of weeks to get to know this beautiful country from coast to coast.

When you do so, you want to make sure you put a lock on your house, and not like the one in the photo. What is the reason for the need of locking your house? Well, there are several, but the main one is that you would like to find your personal belongings to still be there when you come back.

I know, in some countries, you can just leave the back door open, especially if you live in a rural area when the crime rate is very low. In the rural areas of Costa Rica it is kind of the same way, but don’t count on it. There are several ways of protecting your property against thieves while you are away.

Feeling at home when renting a Costa Rica retirement house?

by Ivo Henfling

Retyiree or Tourist?When you do your due diligence before you retire or become a snowbird in Costa Rica, you might read someplace that you should rent first before you buy.

I would like to refer to your option to rent in this article, opposed to purchasing Costa Rica property so you can take a well informed decision.

Moving to another country is a big step.  But you need to be motivated to make that step a successful one.  Your due diligence period will allow you to figure out what area of Costa Rica will suit you best, depending on your lifestyle, your needs and you budget. 

Tourist or retiree?

The motivation and desire to retire in the tropics and look for that lifestyle you have been dreaming about most of your life is something a lot of people have. But to have the motivation and desire to make it function, be happy and make it a fruitful enterprise is something totally different and not that many succeed in doing so.

Brush fires created by your Costa Rica neighbor

by Ivo Henfling

Brush fires created by your Costa Rica neighbor If you own property in Costa Rica, you should pay attention to the windy months of December, January and part of February. The reason is that the dry season has started and during the three beginning months of the dry season we have a lot of wind in Costa Rica. Brush fires are easily started and might be a danger to your property as well as to you and your family.

If you are living next to a building lot or a farm, you will find that during the rainy season, the grass and weeds have grown tremendously. In an incredible short time (depending how warm the area where you live in gets), the long grass will dry out and will catch fire very easily. Due to the strong winds, a brush fire can move quicker than you can run.

If your property is located in a Costa Rica condominium, the cleaning of the empty building lots continuously is usually part of your HOA fees (could be a reason for high condo fees). If you live in a gated community that is not regulated by legal bylaws, like many of the communities in Atenas or in the beach areas, you are on your own and you should take action.

A glass bottle, escaped debris burns or even a stupid neighbor who is too lazy to cut the grass and thinks that burning it is faster might get you into trouble.

6 Tax Tips That Every American Expat in Costa Rica Should Know

by Charlotte Madisson

Tax Tips you should know before you move to Costa Rica

According to the recent statistics, Costa Rica is one of the best countries to live in. It ranks on top positions when it comes to the happiest and greenest places. The tropical paradise combines magnificent nature and sustainable development, while its economy shows considerable expansion.

If you are one of those lucky people that have the chance to live and work there, you should be aware of certain tax legislation that can affect your income status. Here are some tips that will help you go smoothly through the process.

1.     Mark Your Calendar

You should remember that you have to file for tax return every year U.S. and Costa Rica. The major differences between the two countries are their tax years. In U.S. the period covers the months from January to December, while the returns for US expats are due June 15. You can ask for 4 month extension. On the other hand, in Costa Rica the tax year starts in October and ends in September.  


Flush the paper down the toilet in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Flush the paper down the toilet in Costa RicaOnce in a while, people who visit me in my office, ask if they can use the restroom. Some, who have been staying in an older hotel or Bed & Breakfast or live in a rural location, open the door of my restroom, peek in and ask “can I flush the paper”?

For an outsider, that is a very weird question. For an old Costa Rica hand like me, it’s one of those things that gives me a chance to show off that my bathroom is built to the latest standards of decency. If you read on, you will understand why this weird or even shocking question is being asked after a peek into the bathroom.

When I moved to Costa Rica, quite a while ago, I wondered why everyone had paper basket next to the toilet. At the time, pedal flip waste baskets didn’t exist, so everyone had a regular open waste paper basket in the bathroom with a plastic supermarket shopping bag in it.

 It takes a while to get used to this tradition and for sure you learn how to empty the basket a couple of times a day.  To understand the need for the waste paper basket you need to learn a bit about the sewage system in Costa Rica.

Before condominiums existed in Costa Rica, where they install a wastewater treatment plant, every home had its own septic tank in the yard.

Poco Cielo Estates in Atenas - an affordable one story solution at your fingertips

by Ivo Henfling

Poco Cielo Estates - AtenasCheck out this new unique garden community in an out of town location in Atenas with me, a special place for special people. Poco Cielo Estates in Atenas just started construction and everybody is talking about it already.

Everywhere we look for new construction in Costa Rica, we find new 2-story townhouses and condo buildings for sale. I have counted over 60 new gated communities being built by Costa Rica real estate developers, just on the west side of San Jose.  All those townhouses are built for the local market, to local standards and local customs. They’re mostly cookie-cutter two-story homes with no views, no garden space and built on top of the neighbor. They’re built for the new generations who don’t have time to spend outdoors and enjoy their home. They’re mostly in the $200,000 price range and have a high condo fee. Atenas real estate now offers a new option.

Poco Cielo Estates is different. Poco Cielo Estates is being built to YOUR needs and not the new generation’s needs. 

There is no Black Friday in Costa Rica real estate yet

by Ivo Henfling

There is no Black Friday in Costa Rica real estate yetWho would have guessed that we have Black Friday in Costa Rica now too? Last Friday, I saw no Black Friday signs on any Costa Rica real estate offices. I have asked a couple of sellers but they didn’t think I was serious. Or they weren’t motivated enough.

Maybe next year we will find sellers more willing to give a Black Friday 30 – 50% deduction on their property. I will do so on my real estate commission if the sellers cooperate too. So watch out for our newsletter in November 2015!

Most businesses in Costa Rica call it that: Black Friday, few call it Viernes Negro. That’s how we are becoming gringolized now in Costa Rica. You’ll find a zillion advertising boards, signs and other marketing materials in English. Not to make it easier for you but because it sounds fancier than it does in Spanish.