Ivo's Blog

Before moving to Costa Rica – consider the people location

Before moving to Costa Rica – consider the people location Everybody knows that in buying a house, it is all about location. The physical location is most vital, but what about the “people location”?

If you are considering moving to Costa Rica, it is critical to plan. There are people who “stick a pin in a map, roll the dice” and hope for the best, however it is recommended that thought and planning goes into the decision. 

Consider the “people location”. It is difficult to understand the culture and subcultures of a town or neighborhood. As an expat, it is essential to take into consideration the people who you will be interacting with every day.

The principal given reason for moving to Costa Rica is “lower cost of living”, and that is true (with caveats).  In general, it seems that there are three very broad groups of expats. To be able to find the right people location for you and your spouse, belonging to one of those groups will help you adjust after moving to Costa Rica. 

Design a bar and outdoor kitchen for your house in Costa Rica

Bar and outdoor kitchen design for your house in Costa RicaIf you haven’t already bought a house in Costa Rica through a GoDutch Realty agent, I’m sure you will as soon as you learn how to design the coolest bar in the neighborhood.

Now, I’m not trying to turn you into an alcoholic, actually quite the opposite. If you have a cool bar in your backyard, you’ll want to invite some friends to come over once in a while and have a good time together, instead of having to drink on your own all the time or wait for someone to invite you.

Costa Rica is famous for its year round weather conditions, so for sure you will do a lot more outdoor living than you ever did in your life. That’s why you moved to Costa Rica, right? This makes your outdoor space even more important than the indoors.

You already have a pool and an awesome view? There are many ways to do a cool bar even if you have no pool. If you already have a huge covered terrace, you can take advantage of al that space to build a bar, which for easy use should stay as close as you can to the kitchen.

Please do not leave a message - Voicemail in Costa Rica

Please do not leave a message - Voice mail in Costa Rica. Maxwell smart has a hard time too.I’m not even a real old guy yet and I’m already having a hard time keeping up with some of that phone technology that the phone carriers are offering. I’m only 60 and wondering how people like 83 year old mom keep up with all that ever changing stuff. 
I received the offer for 2 free internet based phone lines from a new internet company. Wow, all for free…
One day, another realtor called me on my cell phone and said “why does your office phone sound busy all the time”? “That’s because I was talking on it”. “So, said the realtor, why don’t you get an extra line”? 
“I can answer only one line at the time, Daniel. What most people do when a phone is busy, they call back later and if you don’t, you were really in no hurry to talk to me anyway”.
I can get myself a whole battery of phones but will still only answer one phone call at the time. If you wouldn’t have a secret phone number (100 points for our phone technology), I could see who has called and I’d return your call as soon as I can”. Or shoot me an email; you know I answer it always quickly.

Think hard before your rent on VRBO in Costa Rica

Think hard before your rent on VRBO in Costa RicaMy office phone is ringing while I’m on my cell phone with an attorney discussing some details on a real estate closing. I’m alone in the office and the office phone is ringing off the hook, a local call. You never know how you can miss out on a buyer, so I told the attorney I’d call him back as soon as I could and picked up the office phone.  

“Buenos días, GoDutch Realty, en qué le puedo servir?” is my usual introduction and the lady at the other end says in English “do you speak English?”. This is very customary in our office because if I’d answer the phone in English, the Ticos who don't speak any English generally hang up on me, not knowing what to say.

The lady on the other end started telling me that she knows it’s a very unusual request but she rented a house in Sarchi and it has a solar heating system on the roof. The solar system is leaking and if I know a plumber to get it fixed.

I answered the lady “I assume you’re calling because you rented the house from Brooke Bishop, our agent who covers the Sarchi area, I can give you Brooke’s phone number and I’m sure Brooke can help you”.

The lady answered “no, Brooke had it also listed but we rented through VRBO in Costa Rica, directly from the owner.”

16 Stupid Things Gringos living in Costa Rica do all the time

16 Stupid Things Gringos living in Costa Rica do all the timeThe first thing that I should do, in case someone misunderstands the term “gringo”, is to explain who are seen as gringos in Costa Rica.

A gringo in Costa Rica is anyone who has a lighter skin, hair that is lighter than black and speaks Spanish with some kind of accent, or no Spanish at all. That means, that even I, who has been living in Costa Rica for 35 years, am still called a gringo even though I speak fluent Tico Spanish but with an accent.
Now you, a gringo, are living in Costa Rica and learning to adjust to your new lifestyle and your new home country. To be able to live in a new country, for sure you’ll make mistakes by saying the wrong words, by doing something that is not customary in Costa Rica and will be frowned upon by the locals or by making a serious mistake when buying property (I am a real estate broker, in case you didn’t know). I want to warn you about those mistakes, the stupid mistakes, so you won’t make them. Don’t be surprised you think I’m talking about you.

Looking for privacy on your property in Santa Ana, is it possible?

Looking for privacy on your property in Santa Ana, is it possible?My neighbors are looking at me all the time, I want privacy! I also want security because I travel a lot.

Last week I showed prospective buyers a half acre property in Santa Ana with a small house on it. The buyers are looking for privacy. A ½ acre property is quite a bit of property in Santa Ana, especially when it is totally flat.

They loved the property; nonetheless the neighbors are too close to their feelings, so they need to find a more rural property. 

Their budget doesn’t allow them to purchase a larger property, mainly for the reason that they want the house to have a nice floor plan, quality finishes and a gourmet kitchen. They want to live in Santa Ana because of the schools so a more hillside topography like Atenas offers won’t work for them.

A large property in Santa Ana, depending a bit on the zoning and topography, might be interesting for a real estate developer, so prices tend to be pretty high. Between real estate agents, in this case, we would say that her eyes are much bigger than his wallet.

Some buyers love their privacy and others love it when people look at them all the time.  So let’s see what we can do about that without getting involved in psychiatry.

5 common objections to a realistic Costa Rican property listing price

5 common objections to a realistic Costa Rican property listing price Listing a Costa Rican property for sale can be a lot more difficult than you think, especially if you are a motivated seller. My article for the Tico Times last December “8 reasons why your property in Costa Rica has not sold in 7 years” has generated a lot of emails and call from sellers who have been trying to sell their property for a while and have not been successful. 

A realistic Costa Rican property listing price is a variety of factors and you need all the necessary information of those factors to be able to make an educated decision. 

Many sellers of Costa Rican property think we still live in the 2006 - 2008 real estate boom. Of course we all want to make a profit on the real estate investment we made. But if you have purchased your property at the top of the market, you cannot expect to walk away with a profit if you want to sell while the market builds up again. 

The behavior of a real estate market is more or less the same everywhere in the world. One of the most important rules in real estate is “buy low to sell high”. Investopedia explains it very well in this article, if you’re interested in diving a bit deeper into this interesting topic.

How to retire for less in Costa Rica and still be happy

How to retire for less in Costa Rica and still be happyYou think you can’t afford to retire abroad? You’ve probably been reading on forums and news sites that Costa Rica has become more expensive than it was before, so you’re afraid you will be able to make that big step. 
You’re not rich and you would like to retire anyway, but can you make it on just your retirement income? Are you on social security and want to retire in Costa Rica? It’s a fact that a lot of people who read the weekly Ivo’s blog are far from being rich and have a retirement income of less than $25,000.
Allow me to introduce you to the people who have a lot of experience in how to retire for less in Costa Rica. They have done so themselves in 2009 and made it their main task in their retirement life to tell everybody about it, every month.
I met Gloria and Paul Yeatman a few years ago on an International Living conference in Cancun – Mexico, where Rudy Matthews and I were promoting retirement in Costa Rica. 

Are Costa Ricans proactive or not?

Are Costa Ricans proactive or not?One of the most difficult things for me living in Costa Rica and in adapting to the Costa Rican culture has been the pro-activity of the locals, the Ticos. If you wonder, yes I am still trying to adapt to a different culture after 35 years, as there are certain habits that are really difficult to adapt to, for me at least.

Just in case anyone might think I’m negative or complaining, I’m not. This is just a simple statement, so you’re aware of it, can adjust to the reality and so you can take the necessary action when needed. So the question is “are Costa Ricans proactive or not?”

I recently did some consultancy for a Costa Rican company where some employees are foreigners and some locals. After a month or so, I had over 600 emails in my mailbox and it was growing fast. The reason for this ever-growing mailbox was that nobody was taking any decisions and hiding others. 

On some of those emails, there were 6 or more people involved and everybody would just answer yes or no to a suggestion but nobody would come with a solution or another suggestion and even less take the lead on a discussion. It clearly showed here that Costa Ricans are not proactive, unless they're put under pressure.

Mal Pais and Santa Teresa are booming beaches in Costa Rica

Mal Pais and Santa Teresa are booming beaches in Costa RicaI went surfing. In my case, that means looking how kids grab their surfboards, run into the ocean and jump on a surfboard to ride the waves for hours. It’s amazing what they do. I just look.

The last time I went to Mal Pais and Santa Teresa was about 22 years ago. I have never been a surfer so the northern part of the Peninsula de Nicoya is not a place have visited very often. Twice in 35 years is really not enough, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. The place is booming.

I’m not sure how to write Mal Pais as I have seen also as Malpais or MalPais, Google seems to be fine with all versions, in case you want to start looking.

We were invited by our newest affiliate on the American European real estate group, Peninsula Realty to come over for a couple of days to get some first-hand marketing material. 

I can’t write about a place where I was 22 years ago, can I? One of the partners, Andrew Rhee, owns the Star Mountain Jungle Lodge, where we stayed for two nights, on his invitation.