Category Archives: Costa Rica real estate

Homes, land, commercial and investment properties for sale in the Central Valley, beaches and mountains of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica real estate ….. bargains!

At the moment, it’s a buyer’s market in Costa Rica; it is a great time to take advantage of the opportunities in real estate.  Although many properties have not dropped in price, most sellers are quite willing to negotiate.  Some even offer short term financing as an incentive to buyers.  

If you have been toying with the idea of investing in property or buying a home in Costa Rica, check out these listings that have been greatly reduced in price.  If the dream of living the good life in Costa Rica has ever flitted through your head, maybe one of these “deals” will make your dream a reality.  (P.S.  If you are from the US, health care in Costa Rica is excellent AND very affordable.)

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Wanna move to Costa Rica?

After reading all the positive press lately about Costa Rica, doesn’t it make you just a little bit envious of those of us who are here enjoying the weather, food, health care, lifestyle, etc. on a daily basis?  You can live here too!  If you’re wondering about housing, there are some great bargains right now.  Check this out to see just a few: http://www.costaricatropicalparadiseproperties.com/Greatly_REDUCED/page_2184472.html

Christmas in Costa Rica

If you celebrate Christmas in Costa Rica, you may miss snow and a few of your favorite family foods, but you will also discover a few things you probably hadn’t experienced in previous Christmas or holiday celebrations.

There are some very obvious signs that Christmas is on its way: the rain stops and the wind begins, stores (holes in the wall) selling Christmas paraphernalia appear overnight and FIREWORKS begin in earnest. No celebration in Costa Rica is complete without a few startling loud bangs and pops. Unfortunately, just outside my bedroom window is a telephone pole with a metal band around it near the bottom – the ideal height for children to mount fireworks, light them and run for cover. After the ensuing boom has startled people, cats, dogs and birds, the noise continues in a chorus of car alarms set off throughout the neighborhood.

Along with the “sounds” of Christmas, there are also sights and smells. Horse parades (which cover both sounds and smells!), tamale making (the traditional Christmas food), parades of lights, bull fights in Zapote (bulls are not speared or killed), increased traffic, longer bank lines and school children running about playing soccer in the streets (students in Costa Rica have their long break from December until February – like summer vacation “up North”). It is a time of increased activity and a sense of anticipation for everyone.

Speaking as a “transplant” from the US, there is one notable difference in the US and Costa Rica traditions: the Christmas Party. People living in the US often start marking up their calendars with party dates in early November. Oftentimes, people will attend more than one party per day during December, seeing many of the same people at each party. As Costa Ricans tend to celebrate with their family members, there aren’t as many parties. (An aside: When I FINALLY received my cédula giving me residency, I had a party and invited several friends – 30 or more showed up. Most of the attendees were Costa Rican. A few days later, one of the friends who had attended the party asked me who all the people were and how did I know them. They were floored that the guests were my friends. I then thought back to all the parties I’d been invited to at their home and at every one I was the only non-family member, as well as the only non-tico. As everyone has family nearby in Costa Rica, having circles of friends is not common.)

On New Year’s Eve, Costa Rica erupts in fireworks displays. If you are fortunate enough to be at a mirador (look-out) where you can enjoy a view of the Central Valley, you can see showers of light and color all across the landscape. About mid-January, life will return to normal as people working in the courts, registry, immigration, etc. will have returned to work and the tourists will have begun arriving en masse.

Another year will begin.

(This home in Alajuela has the perfect location for watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve.)

Costa Rica Weather

     Costa Rica’s weather alternates between the rainy (green) and the dry seasons.  The rainy season begins in earnest in May and ends in November.  Even though it might rain every day for a few days or weeks (often at exactly the same time every day!), it seems like the mornings always begin with sunshine and fresh breezes.  It does not rain every day during the rainy season and people go about their business as usual, but they may try to run errands in the morning.  Even if you get caught in a rain shower, the rain is not cold.  Rains can come quickly, flooding roads and causing traffic to slow down.  Soon the rain ends, the sun comes out and things return to normal.  Because of the number of microclimates, you can be riding in pouring rain and, suddenly, the rain will stop and you will be surrounded by sunshine! 

     In December, the “winds of Christmas” begin, days start getting warmer and the tourist season begins in earnest.  (However, as Costa Rica has become better known over the last several years, the tourist season now extends over most of the year.)

     Beach areas are much hotter and more humid than the Central Valley.  Don’t convince yourself that you are protected from the sun’s burning rays by sitting under an umbrella.  Reflected light can burn your skin within minutes.

     (Rain or shine, you’ll love the view of the Central Valley from this San Rafael home for sale.)

 

Driving in Costa Rica – what you don’t know, could hurt you.

(This is a long post, but an important one to read if you are thinking of coming to Costa Rica and wondering if you should rent a car.)

 

People planning trips to Costa Rica often ask what it’s like to drive a car here.  A gamble!  Here are a few things you should know if you plan to drive here.  These tips aren’t meant to scare you so that you won’t want to drive, but are intended to acquaint you with what you might encounter when driving in Costa Rica and to help make your experience driving here as accident-free as possible.  The cardinal rule: BE CONSTANTLY ALERT.

 

* Potholes/huecos.  You could paddle a canoe in some of them!  When it’s raining and the streets fill up with water, you can’t see them, making for a real axle-breaker if you hit one.  Also, if you are approaching a vehicle and all of a sudden it swerves into your lane right in front of you, the driver is probably dodging a hueco.

* Stolen manhole covers.  Sometimes large holes in the road are obvious because they have palm branches or boards sticking out of them as a warning, thanks to some kind soul who placed them there.  Other times ………

* Grates covering gutters and drainage ditches.  These are often missing because they have been stolen and sold to (unscrupulous) scrap iron dealers.  If you turn too sharply (which would be fine under normal circumstances), your car will drop off, your axle will get bent or worse and you’ll be stuck for a looooong time.  I’ve seen a semi hit one of these holes – big problem.

* Pedestrians.  People – sometimes walking 3-4 abreast – use the street because sidewalks aren’t available everywhere.  I guess their conversation is so scintillating that they don’t notice they are in the middle of the road.  (When walking, you need to be extremely careful.  Walkers are not given the right of way.  I swear some drivers aim for pedestrians!)

* Bicyclists.  Riders drive up mountain roads (amazing!) and on the autopista (4 lane divided highway), especially on the weekends.  If you’re in the mountains and humming along and go around a curve, you could come upon a bicyclist.

* Highway merging.  Drivers don’t move over to allow cars to enter and merge.  This makes it necessary to try to get up to speed from a dead stop at the entrance to the pista sometimes.

* Cars/trucks parked in the road.  For some reason, drivers who park (often suddenly) can be oblivious to the fact that they are on a road with cars going in both directions.  Though there might be a shoulder next to the road, that’s irrelevant.  The road suddenly goes down to one lane.

* Sudden stops.  I’ve run into the rear of a car this way.  Fortunately, no damage was done, but it made it very clear to me that you need to be looking in all directions at all times and be ready to react.

* Passing.  Yellow lines mean nothing, unless they mean “hurry up and pass” now that you have 100 feet of clear highway.  Being a mountainous country, there are many winding roads and just as many opportunities for people to tempt the Grim Reaper.

* Turning cars.  This may happen as you are in the left lane heading forward and the car on your right decides to turn left in front of you.  You can be making a left turn and suddenly a moped will be zipping up beside you on your left – the moped driver planning to go straight ahead, unless they run into your car turning left, of course.

* Mopeds.  Businesses and restaurants use mopeds to make deliveries.  No space between cars, buses or trucks is too narrow for a moped to try to get through.  I have seen several accidents involving mopeds.

* Shoulders.  Roads can drop off suddenly.  Over the years and several layers of resurfacing, roads gets narrower and ditches gets deeper.

* Yielding.  Don’t ever assume you have the right of way or that someone will yield.

* Slow drivers in left lane.  The notion of “slower traffic stay right” hasn’t made it to Costa Rica.

* Signals.  All cars in Costa Rica are equipped with turn signals – none of them are worn out from over-use.

* Pick-ups piled high.  Watch for falling furniture, wood pallets, steel, trees, livestock, etc. in over-stuffed trucks.  You don’t want to be behind one of these going under an overpass, either.  The same is true with big trucks.  I was following one once and it got stuck – it was too tall and didn’t fit underneath.  Another traffic jam!

* Accidents.  As you might guess, they happen frequently and when they do, no vehicles involved can be moved until the police and the insurance inspector can visit the scene and record whatever it is they need to record.  Traffic can be blocked up for hours and for miles around, probably causing other accidents.

* Unregulated intersections.  Traffic lights are not always in places that would benefit from them.  With no lights, but lots of traffic, it’s a free for all as to who goes when.  The oldest car usually leaps first!

* Stop signs.  Drivers often toot their horns as they approach an intersection to warn other drivers who should stop at that intersection that there is a car approaching.

* Horns.  Used profusely.  If you don’t leap forward the split second a light turns green, you will be chastised for your negligence by a cacophony of honking horns. 

* Muertos.  These are raised areas stretching across the road, sometimes painted yellow, but not always – quite a jolt!  Some are huge and will give you a real bump.

* Buses.  The country is blessed with great bus service ……… some buses stopping anywhere someone flags them down.  Others stop only at assigned stops.  You never know which one you are following.

* People.  Although there are some overpasses for walkers, there aren’t very many of them.  Where there aren’t, you can see a woman in spike heels and a short tight skirt running across the highway and then climbing over the cement divider to continue her run across the other lanes of traffic… during rush hour.  In addition, this woman might be holding the hand of her child or carrying a baby!   Hearts painted on the highway signify the death of a pedestrian and are hoped to be a deterrent.  I have seen someone killed this way.  Horrible.

* Flooding.  Rains can come quickly and fill up roads with tumbling rocks, chunks of cement and other debris.  It’s a challenge dodging these items and avoiding hidden huecos and drop offs.

* Landslides.  During the rainy season, these are potential hazards, especially when driving in the mountains.

* Wash-outs.  Sides of roads can wash out in the rainy season, especially in the mountains.

* Dogs.  Street dogs are in abundance. 

* Cows.  Be alert for herds of cattle, especially in rural areas.

* Street signs.  Huh?  What are they?  Unless you are in downtown San José, no one knows the names of streets (and even there, most won’t know the names).  Most streets don’t have names.

* Sunday.  People go to the beach on the weekends.  Sunday traffic heading back to the Central Valley can be like a parking lot. 

* Driver’s license.  Some licensed drivers have “bought” their licenses instead of taking the test. 

 

I have conversations with drivers every day.  They never hear me and they never change their driving habits, but I keep talking to them, pointing out the errors of their ways.  You might find yourself doing the same.  I hope you have better luck than I.

 

(If you’d rather avoid driving altogether, you can live downtown in a San José apartment like this one and walk or take a taxi anywhere!)

Horrible traffic!!!!!!!

I’ve just returned from an appointment in Santa Ana and am fed up with the traffic.  A drive that would take 15 minutes on a Sunday, took nearly two hours one way….. in the hot sun….. breathing diesel, gas and who-knows-what fumes the whole time.   While sitting in traffic with my fellow “prisoners” of the highway, I noticed all the construction going on – condos, office buildings and hotels – and I wondered how it will be possible to go anywhere once they are completed.  I can’t imagine working in this area and spending several hours a day in an idling car, especially with gas at nearly $5 a gallon.  On the way home from my appointment, I decided to take an alternate route on the autopista (a divided four lane highway).  For awhile I was humming along thinking it was great to go this way when, suddenly, traffic came to a halt and the highway was like a parking lot.  A friend called just then and I told him what was going on (he could hear all the rumbling trucks surrounding my car) and he did some checking and found out there was an accident several miles away on a connecting highway that was affecting traffic in all directions.  I finally got to a point where I could get off the autopista and go through Escazú (always bad traffic there, but it seemed like nothing compared to what I’d just escaped) and continue until I could get back on the pista in the opposite direction.  After one hour of driving (sitting in a car, really) I was back where I started – at the point where I had decided to take the pista because it would be faster.  Incredible.   I’m so glad I live in an area that is free from all this grief!  (Living in Atenas, you can avoid all the congestion of the city and breathe clean, fresh air

Beauty on a budget – cosmetic surgery, dentistry and lasik surgery!

Costa Rica’s reputation for excellent, affordable health care is no longer a well-kept secret.  Each day, Juan Santa Maria International Airport welcomes tourists flocking here for elective surgeries.  Several doctors and private clinics offer plastic surgery, lasik eye procedures, dental work and complete physicals to foreigners, as well as Costa Ricans.  Physicians, hospitals, clinics and health care professionals are expanding their practices to cater to this burgeoning medical tourism.  English speaking care providers are easily available.  Costa Rican hospitals and clinics meet or exceed standards found in well-respected hospitals and clinics located in the U.S. or Canada.  Well known for its eco-tourism, what is driving this new phenomenon?   Why are people flocking to Costa Rica for treatments available in their home countries?  In a word: cost.  Not only are procedures less expensive here, but the private recovery facilities are luxurious and relatively inexpensive.  This makes Costa Rica an appealing alternative when undergoing dental work, cosmetic surgery, eye surgery, etc.  Compared to U.S. costs, an individual can come to Costa Rica for medical care, relax in beautiful, tropical surroundings during recuperation and fly back home with money in their pocket – sometimes for less than half the cost they would have paid in their home town.  It is not uncommon to see women browsing, laughing and enjoying themselves in a shopping center or restaurant with bandages wrapped under their chins and over the tops of their heads, obviously face lift recipients.  (I am aware of one facility – and there are undoubtedly others – that offers door to door service for a flat fee of less than $10,000 for a complete face lift.)  During recovery, “patients” can enjoy day tours of Costa Rica, bask by a pool or hot tub while watching cloud formations over distant mountains, dine on tasty food prepared in an on-site kitchen and return to their homes refreshed and looking and feeling younger and healthier.  Wouldn’t recovering from a root canal or liposuction be more tolerable in lush, tropical surroundings?  (For the perfect recovery facility, check this out.)