Ivo's Blog

The pros and the cons of buying a condominium in Costa Rica


The pros and the cons of buying a condominium in Costa RicaIf you buy a condominium in Costa Rica for sale, will you be able to adapt to a different lifestyle than what you have been used to your whole life?

If you have lived your whole life in a single family home, is it going to be easy for you to live in a condominium or a townhouse in a gated community?

The older home owner generations have never lived in a condominium and have never had to follow rules that might or might not make them happy, but it is necessary to constitute bylaws so neighbors are able to live in harmony.

Many have raised a family in that single family or custom built home, that had all the specifics to match their lifestyle but once they retire, they look into other options. Younger generations are looking for a different lifestyle and better security, amenities and less maintenance are a few reasons to have a hard look into buying a condo.

7 reasons to live in El Cajon de Grecia


6 Reasons to live in El Cajon de GreciaCajón what? El Cajón de Grecia!

Few imagine that is the name of one of the nicest communities to live in the Central Valley.

I know El Cajón de Grecia reasonably well myself because I’ve joined Brooke Bishop, our Grecia agent many times on showings. I’ve also had a few housewarming parties there because most clients who look at buying a property in Grecia  and specifically in Cajón de Gecia will take the instant decision about not having to look any further. They definitely want to live in Cajón de Grecia.

Cajón de Grecia is located on the north-side of the city of Grecia on the slopes of the Poas (see map below).

Since Brooke knows Cajón or El Cajón as they call it, much better than I do, I asked her to come up with 7 good reasons to live in El Cajón de Grecia.

Several reasons to build a house in Costa Rica without construction permits


Several reasons to build a house in Costa Rica without construction permitsIt’s amazing how many people get away with building a house in Costa Rica without getting a construction permit. I’ve been in the Costa Rica real estate business way for over 25 years and I have seen lots of constructions shut down by the local engineering department for lack of a construction permit but many more getting away without it. 

I have done some remodeling myself without even applying for a permit, not because I don’t want to pay for it. The red tape to do a remodel job or the construction of a house in Costa Rica is a burden and a difficult task in most municipalities. The main reason to my opinion that people just don’t want to bother even applying for a construction permit.  

The other reason is that everyone knows that most municipalities have a shortage of manpower and the chance to get caught building without a permit is small. 

Should you trust people you meet in Costa Rica just because they speak your language?


Should you trust people you meet in Costa Rica just because they speak your language?At home, you grew up in a certain environment and you learned how to recognize the people you don’t want in your life and those you cannot trust. When you move to Costa Rica, it is like your first day in school, except that now you cannot call on your mom to help when you’re in trouble.

Now you are on you own, just you and your spouse (and sometimes the kids). You arrive in this huge world full of people you do not understand because they speak a different language and you don’t know who you can trust.

You might think you’re wise and know it all. Surprise! You don’t. Moving to another country with a different culture and another language is like starting all over again. You need to learn to look out for yourself and your family like you have never done before in life. This is a factor that is part of this adventure and it is part of the learning curve.

Making mistakes is ok!

The mangoes at my Atenas rental home are keeping me awake


The mangoes at my Atenas rental home are keeping me awakeI read the complaint “the mangoes are keeping me awake”. Strange, I thought, I never have any heartburn when I eat mangoes. I get it from pineapple but not from mango.

When I read the Atenas tenant's complaint further, I found out that the letter also mentioned “Fruit is constantly bouncing off the rancho roof which is particularly startling to the heart”.

This is where I started to worry because it seemed we had tenants with a heart condition.  So mangoes are not only bad for your sleep, they’re also bad for your heart. Jeez, I thought, I should quit eating mangoes and tell you all about it so you're warned and can't complain about it later.

6 Handy Costa Rica grocery shopping tips


6 Handy Costa Rica grocery shopping tipsEvery culture has different ways of doing things and as soon as you move to Costa Rica, you will find out that a lot of things are different than they were back home. Sometimes we just assume things are done our way (and we think of course it's the best way) and they're not, we don't even find out until it's too late.

But wasn’t that the first reason you moved here? You wanted things to be different, right?

Shopping is one of those things that’s quite different from what you are used to and there is to learn a lot about it.  Especially when you go shopping in a Costa Rica grocery store, you should be aware of several issues that are quite a bit different from back home.

Some who read my weekly blogs have probably figured some of these issues already out, but I hope I can help at least some of you with these tips.

How to make payments to your Costa Rica home builder or not


How to make payments to your Costa Rica home builder or notMany home lot owners in Costa Rica, once they are ready to start building, do all the wrong things. That is mostly for lack of experience. Most of us only build one house in a life time, or we don’t at all.

I sometimes get messages such as “I'm fairly pleased, the home builder did a good job. The only thing is some smaller items are not finished. My only mistake was not withholding some money until the entire house was finished.

The builder retains one key which is some evidence that he intends to finish. I did have him sign an agreement to build and paid him the entire fee.

Any ideas on getting him to finish would be appreciated but I'm not holding my breath.

Let’s go bowling in Cariari


Let's go bowling in CariariWhen I was 12 years old, our neighborhood gang used to play baseball in a large commercial property under construction near my home. The owner of the building under construction invited us to keep visiting after the building would be done.

That was when I was first introduced to 10 pin bowling (boliche in Spanish), the first one in Holland (Europe). When I moved to Costa Rica, I was soon invited to play the American League in the Boliche Dent in San Pedro, the only bowling alley in Costa Rica back then.

That was before the first and only terrorist attack in Costarican history took place. Tico terrorists (can you believe that?) placed a car bomb against the American embassy downtown San Jose. Since some playing in the American League were US marines, people working at the US embassy and a few teachers who worked at Country Day School and The Costa Rica Academy (now International School), we were not allowed to play for the rest of the year. This was in the beginning of the 80’s.

Are Costa Rica homes able to withstand an earthquake or not


Are Costa Rica homes able to withstand an earthquake or notIt was September 5th, 2012 and a 7.6 on Richter hit us. That earthquake was now almost 3 years ago and has been on the news worldwide. A 7.6 on Richter doesn’t happen very often. This was the 2nd strongest earthquake in Costarica’s history after  the 1991 earthquake in Limon.

This time, two people are known to have died, one from a heart attack and another, a construction worker, crushed by a collapsing wall. The 7.8 earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 Nepal killed more than 9,000 people and injured more than 23,000.

If you are afraid for earthquakes or if you have any doubt if Costa Rica homes can withstand heavy earthquakes, you need to read this blog and you’ll see that Costa Rica homes are very safe to live in. In the 35 years I have lived in Costa Rica this was the first one that was a bit scary and the fourth worth talking about. Earthquake in Spanish is “terremoto” although the locals usually talk about a temblor,which is much less strong than an earthquake.

Motorcycles and you together on the roads of Costa Rica


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.