By Ivo Henfling
Costa Rica punctuality, or so called Tico Time, will be a very important part of your lifestyle if you plan to move to Costa Rica and buy a home here. I consider myself a punctual person, even after living in Costa Rica for over 30 years. Writing a blog about this occurred to me after a seller of a property in Ciudad Colon got really mad at me for not showing up on the time that he thought we had agreed on. I had another appointment at the same time and I keep an electronic agenda on my computer and my iPhone, so you can probably guess what I decided to tell him. I think I said it nicely though.
This blog was not written to try to tell you that I don’t care about time, actually quite the opposite. Sure, I forget an appointment here and there, especially when I’m doing something else at the time of answering my phone, like trying to attend a client who is buying a million dollar home from me.
Latin American people generally have a different attitude, though things are changing little by little. In Costa Rica, being on time for a meeting is not as important to the locals as it is to anyone who just moves here. Nobody really cares about 5 minutes or 10, or half an hour or even a couple of hours. We call it “Tico Time”. This might mean people come late, later or never. The amazing thing is that expats in Costa Rica adapt to this lifestyle really quickly and you should see how the most punctual person “turns Tico” in no time. I guess its because they like it here.
I was just having a cup of coffee and a cookie (which is how we drink coffee in Holland) with my wife downstairs and she said that two friends were planning to come by at lunch. While we were having lunch (we don’t wait for long anymore), Dany sent them a text message to tell them we just started with lunch, a simple sandwich. They returned the message saying that they were just buying bread. That was at 2:00 pm. I am now writing this blog and it is 4:40 pm. I’m glad we ate.
If you get invited for a party at a certain time, make sure you ask the time they give you is Tico time or Gringo time. You might catch the people who throw the party still in hair curlers if you are too punctual.
You will find the same thing in business; people are really easy about forgetting or just coming late because. So what did my gringo seller in Ciudad Colon wrong? When I didn’t show 10 minutes after our appointment, he could have called me. I know, it doesn't make it all right, even if I would have just forgotten our appointment or if I would've run late indeed, but its just a matter of saving yourselves the boiling anger of the other person not showing or arriving later than agreed. In that case, you need to find yourself some patience.
When you relocate to Costa Rica, most of you do it because you’re tired with the rat race and are looking to slow down, enjoy life more. So make sure you do and adjust to another one of these cultural differences that make it so nice to live in Costa Rica, if you can get to accept them of being part of your new life in Costa Rica. It is YOU who has to adjust to the culture and not the other way around. And call when the other person is late.
By the way, the friends DID show and not only 2 but 4, they duplicated on the way. It was almost dinner time when they arrived but they know this Dutch guy and his wife are cool with that.
Ivo Henfling of is the founder of GoDutch realty, Costa Rica’s most complete real estate company.
Ivo is a Costa Rica real estate agent who covers the west side of San Jose and can show you many listings if you are looking to buy a home in Escazu or to rent an apartment. There are homes with a view for sale, plenty of condos and single family homes in gated communities for sale.
GoDutch Realty is the leading real estate company in Costa Rica for taking well care of their clients and to get them going. GoDutch Realty agents are all well trained in real estate matters, live in the community where they sell real estate and follow up way past the closing.