The Best Kept Secret in Costa Rica–San Mateo

What is the best kept secret in Costa Rica?  The San Mateo area.  “Why?” you ask.  Well, I’ll let you in on the secret if you promise not to tell.

The news is out about the new Orotina airport going in.  Property values around the airport and along Highway 27 have skyrocketed in the anticipation.  But the focus has been on the Southwest side of the highway.  The best secret is on the other side, to the Northeast.  The area of San Mateo has, so far, been ignored.  From Desmonte to Esparza, this area is close to highway 1, just minutes to Highway 27 at the Orotina entrance and it’s on the other side of the planned airport location.  It’s perfect, even now, for all of the businesses and people who will be working on the construction of the airport.  And guess what??  It’s still cheap!  And I mean CHEAP!  Land for as low as $7 per meter squared.

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This area is so close to everything and there are bargains, as well as luxury properties, to choose from.  It is the little area that will explode, as soon as the secret is out.

 

 

Some of the fabulous homes and properties in this area:

20170930_083749 (Copy).jpgSan Mateo land, starting at $9.50/m2.  Each have 4 hectares (more than 40,000 m2) , which can be divided.  Both have electricity and water access.  One has a a paved road all the way to the property which is located only 700 meters from the central church and soccer field in Labrador.  Hundreds of fruit trees and both howler and white-faced monkeys make the creek area their home.  The other property is located right on the road between San Mateo and Orotina.  Flat land for building or dividing into lots, and a beautiful creek that runs along the base.  Each of them is priced at $400,000.

Casa Metamorphosis_pq_Florian Kuster-119 (Copy)EcovillaA Utopia in Costa Rica.  Incredible and unique homes that are located in an eco-friendly and self-sustaining neighborhood.  There is a great alternative school and homes of every style.  A common swimming pool and yoga platform as well as a rancho for entertaining too.  MLW-triskel-2622 (Copy)The community has a common garden in which the vegetables are distributed to the neighborhood.  Homes for sale in this neighborhood start at $285,000.

 

 

Villa Adriana.  002 (Copy)Two fabulous homes OUR HOUSE orotina (Copy)for sale in this amazing neighborhood located just off the main road between San Mateo and Esparza.  One is a great family home and the other is an estate with a mansion, a guest house, a guest dormitory with room for a large group, and two swimming pools.

Vista Mar.  Just minutes from Orotina but on lots with breathtaking views.  This neighborhood is on the mountain between Desmonte and Orotina so it has fresh mountain breezes and views both to the ocean and over the central valley.  Two homes and a lot are up for sale.  The lot is only $100,000 and the homes have fabulous pools and views to die for while being very well-priced, starting at $450,000.

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Esparza.  A great 4 bedroom family home in a quiet neighborhood minutes to downtown Esparza is only $320,000.  IMG-20160331-WA0002 (Copy)There are also two large properties which are perfect for developments available starting at $7/m2.  One is 4.6 hectares for $320,000 and the other is $10/m2 for 5.5 hectares.  Again, really great bargains and in areas that are minutes to the beach or the new airport.  Just off of Highway 1 and easy access to Highway 27.

Tina Newton was a licensed Realtor in Kansas with a master’s in International Economics and Sustainable Development and is now an agent and co-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate in Costa Rica. She has resided in Atenas, Costa Rica for over 18 years and has raised two children and now a grandbaby there. She is always open to answering any questions about living in Costa Rica or buying/selling /renting a home there. You can contact her by email, through the Facebook page, or through the website.

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A Utopia in Costa Rica

Have you ever dreamed of living in a sustainable neighborhood with organic permaculture gardens in which the community shares the harvest each week?  20160223_092533 (Copy)

Being able to practice yoga with your neighbors on an open-air platform with a view of nature in every direction and swim in a large shared saltwater pool? 20160223_092839 (Copy)

Having the perfect combination of being one with nature and yet with the ease of modern living?  MLW-triskel-2616 (Copy)

What if we threw in an alternative school of international recognition?   Casa Sula, was created and maintained by this community, and is the only alternative school of its kind in Costa Rica.  Imagine learning where children absorb materials through experiences and let their desire to learn guide them in their studies.

If this is something you have always wanted, then the community of La Ecovilla is for you.  There are currently five homes for sale in this unique and amazing international community and you can be as elegant or as “close to nature” as you would like to be.  All ranges are to be found. 

1)      Metamorphosis.  Who wouldn’t want to live in a home that was designed in the shape of a butterfly?  This three bedroom home with an office has an incredible view, a jacuzzi on the balcony, and a guest home on the side.  You feel such peace that you will never want to leave.

2)      Triskel.  Open to nature. Who says you have to live within four walls?  This 6 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom home has the main living area open to nature which can only be done in the perfect weather of Costa Rica.  Four of the bedrooms have private entrances as well so they are perfect for a B&B in a free spirit living style.

3)     The New Moon.  Stone elegance.  The use of nature through stonework and natural woods bring an elegance which blends in with the nature around.  Three bedroom, 2 bath home in the shape of a new moon.

4)      Luxury living.  All of the luxuries of life were combined with the ecofriendly environment of this community.  Three bedrooms with exquisite bathrooms, plus an office and oversized garage.

5)      Low maintenance and high tech.  This home uses technology to provide comfort for its human inhabitants while being very friendly to the environment.  Solar electricity, special wall structure to keep everything cool, and a flooring which is above ground to allow air flow and keep the home flexible.

Having lived in Costa Rica for 18 years, I have never seen community living combined with environmental awareness and human comfort so perfectly intertwined.  Located only 30 minutes from Atenas, 30 minutes to the beach, and 20 minutes to the new international airport that is being built, it is conveniently located to everything and yet, you would never need to leave if you didn’t want to.  Forty homes make up this very special place that is only awaiting your participation.

Tina Newton was a licensed Realtor in the States and has lived in Costa Rica for over 18 years.  She is co-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate with her business partner Cecilia Tristan who has been a broker in Costa Rica for 40 years and is an attorney and notary public with the firm Gomez, Tristan, & Tristan.  They are always available to answer your questions on real estate and life in Costa Rica in general.  Relocation is their specialty with everything under one roof.  Check out the website, Facebook page, or send them an email.

A special thanks to the professional photographers who took the photos for the owners of these beautiful homes.

Why you really NEED a Realtor when buying property in Costa Rica

Sometimes being a Realtor is not the most respected profession.  I understand that there are lots of people out there, and especially in Costa Rica, who are not professional, are crooks, and don’t know what they are doing.  And therefore, I halfway understand when a local says they don’t need a real estate agent and will go directly to the owner.  However, when I hear a foreigner say that they want to buy a property directly from a local with no agents involved, I shiver.  What can go wrong?  After 18 years of living here and hearing horror stories, here are five things that can go VERY wrong.

1)       You could end up paying WAY more than the property is valued.  You don’t know the value of the land.  Every local will tell you that the property is “ganga” or cheap, even if they’ve priced it at $1,000,000.  I adore this country, but I have been told so many times by locals that they will put a high price on it and eventually someone will come along and pay it.  A good realtor will know the value of the land and other properties in the market.

2)      You might have bought a property that can never be transferred into your name.  Well, maybe NEVER is an exaggeration, but it could easily take 10 years in the courts.  You don’t know if the person who says they are selling the property is truly the owner in the registry.  Sometimes, it could be someone out to fraud someone, but often it is people who honestly believe they own the property and don’t.  How?  A grandson has inherited his grandfather’s property, but nothing was ever changed in the registry, and the grandfather has passed away so there is no one to sign over the property to you.  Or, there was a divorce and the property is no longer in the person’s name who is trying to sell it.

3)      You might have bought a property with liens and mortgages attached.  You could have bought a property that only has rights to half of it, or a mortgage that hasn’t been taken off the registry.  Even if a mortgage is paid, it must be requested by a lawyer for it to be taken off of the registry.  These must be cleared before you consider buying a property.

4)      You might have bought a property with concessions, allowing roads to be widened or high tension electrical wires to run right through your property.  Sometimes these are on the registry papers and sometimes they aren’t and it’s important to know what is going on in the community to know.  Imagine buying a property in Orotina that will be directly next to the new airport. 

5)      Can you live without water?  Unless you have been in the area for an extended period of time, you don’t know which areas have good access to water and which ones get shut off for hours at a time.  You very well could be buying into a development with no water rights at all.  And forget building anything if you don’t have water approval.

Now, it’s true, not every agent out there will check on these things in advance.  They should have, but not all will.  So, it is important to know your Realtor, get recommendations and ask these questions.  If they can’t produce a copy of the registry and plano (plot) for each home you want to see, be careful.  But to say outright that you don’t want to use any Realtor for the transaction is like going into surgery without a surgeon or going into court defending yourself in a murder trial.  NOT recommended.  Will you save money if the owner doesn’t have to pay the commission?  Look at number one.  If you are paying the market rate or better, wouldn’t you prefer that to paying double?  The seller pays the commission so even if you look for properties with an agent and decide not to buy, you don’t pay anything.  So, do your research and select someone who can truly help you and guide you in the Costa Rican jungle.  It’s worth your weight in gold.

Tina Newton who is part-owner of Tristan & Newton real estate is always glad to help you in the search for a home, to sell a home, or even to just answer any questions you have about living in Costa Rica.  Check out the website, facebook page, or send a direct email to find the home of your dreams.

Needs versus Wants

Have you ever seen the commercial about the guy that goes out to buy a new car and drives his new, red, 2-door, sports car into the driveway where his wife and three young children are waiting?  That’s what I mean…need versus want.  It’s the same with houses.  You have to find a good balance and a good Realtor will help you find that.  You LOVE the two story home with the huge backyard, but you are over retirement age.  Stop and think.  Are those stairs going to be a problem or a big headache for you in a few years?  Is the large backyard a lot of work?  Maybe your needs are more in line with a smaller home with no stairs and a yard that is maintained by someone else.  But maybe you just don’t like that.  Well, it’s time to find a balance or sacrifice one for the other.  Maybe that doesn’t make me the best “salesperson” who would push you into the largest, most expensive home of your dreams, but it’s what makes me a good Realtor.  A good realtor understands both your wants and your needs and can help you find that perfect match.  And if you are lucky enough, you might just find exactly what you need AND exactly what you want in the same property.

How can you help your Realtor help you?  Determine these things first and let your Realtor know.

What are your needs?

  1. How many people are in your family?
  2. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
  3. How often do you have visitors?
  4. Do you need indoor space or more outdoor space, such as a patio?
  5. Do you have pets?
  6. How much care can you give to a yard or pool?
  7. Do you need easy access to town or a highway?
  8. Do you need to be able to get to the main city or hospitals?

What are your wants?

  1. Do you want a guest bedroom or house?
  2. Do you want a large yard or a small one?  Are you willing to pay someone to keep up a larger yard?
  3. Do you want a pool?  Are you willing to pay someone to clean it or are you willing to do it yourself?
  4. Do you want to live in a gated residential community or in a smaller local community?
  5. Do you want a new home or one that is a more established neighborhood?
  6. Do you want to live in a secluded rural area with no neighbors?
  7. Do you want to never drive on a dirt road?

How can you compromise the two or make a tradeoff?

  1. Do you want the guest house, but only have visitors for one week out of the year?  Would it be worth to live close to a small hotel or short-term rental where you could have them sleep there instead?
  2. Would a pool that is available to the residential community work so that you don’t have the personal maintenance?
  3. Could you buy a smaller house and build a separate guest home in the future?
  4. Would you want to get a secluded home but still close to the city?
  5. Would you be willing to drive on a good dirt road if it meant living in the home of your dreams?
  6. Do you love the beach but hate the heat?  Could you then live 30 minutes away from the surf but up where the air is cooler?
  7. How do you get a home with a view over the whole valley without driving on a hill?

 The more inline that your wants and needs are, the easier it will be, but sometimes compromises or tradeoffs can be made between the two.  It can make it even more complicated when two people have very different ideas of what they need and want.   For example, a wife who likes to be close to town in a home with very little maintenance and a husband who likes to be out in the country with no neighbors in shouting distance.  So, then you have to try to line up two sets of needs vs. wants.  The more you can know this about yourself before you start and let your agent know, the quicker you will find the perfect home. 

Tina Newton who is part-owner of Tristan & Newton real estate is always glad to help you in the search for a home, to sell a home, or even to just answer any questions you have about living in Costa Rica.  Check out the website, facebook page, or send a direct email to find the home of your dreams.

Water or Waterless in Atenas?

What do you think of when someone mentions Atenas, Costa Rica?  In the past, the first thing that everyone said when Atenas was mentioned was, “Ah, the ‘Best Climate in the World,’ but lately, I am hearing instead “Ah, where there is no water.”  So, I’m here to set the matter straight.

The central area of Atenas which includes Guizaro, Los Angeles, Brazil, and Fatima among other neighborhoods which receive their water on the water line from Grecia often have issues.  The main problem is that the line from Grecia is old and only has the ability to distribute a limited amount of water.  Therefore, there are often scheduled (and sometimes unscheduled) times in these neighborhoods when the water will automatically be shut off each day.  In response, most people living in these neighborhoods have extra water tanks which store water to be used during the water shut offs.  Some others just schedule their washing around such hours.   A few months ago, there was a landslide which broke the main line from Grecia.  Because the old line is so ancient, parts were not readily available.  It first took time to get to the line because of the fallen tree and then they had to have the replacement part made in order to fix the line.  During that time, the water company, AyA, had water trucks going throughout the central area delivering water.  It was a terrible time, but the line was fixed.  The new water distribution line is currently in place, but there is no set date for the changeover from the old to the new line.  The office of AyA informed me that, as of today’s date, this is still more or less a year away.  Until that time, AyA will not issue any new water meters or water permits on properties which do not already have them in place.  Without the water permit, the municipality will not issue any building permits for those properties.  For this reason, Atenas has this new reputation of “no water.”

However, this image that Atenas is without water and there are no building permits allowed, is really only a small picture of the story.  Most of the rural areas surrounding downtown Atenas are actually on ASADA’s which are water associations, still overseen by the AYA, but with independent water sources.  These areas include Barrio Jesus, part of Sabana Larga, Mercedes, Morazan, and more.  Any properties in these areas apply for water permits directly from the ASADA.  So, it is up to the water association if the permit is granted.  There is no moratorium in these areas.  As long as the water association grants the permit, then the Municipality will process the building permit and approval or denial is dependent on all of the other requirements.

In addition, each of the residential areas (Roca Verde, Vista Atenas, Lomas del Paraiso, Hacienda Atenas, etc) have their own water source.  Again, as long as the water association or developers approved the new water permit, the municipality will not automatically deny a building permit based on water access.

Finally, there are many properties that have their own well or natural spring as the source of water.  In this case, it is important to make sure the well is registered and tested frequently, but it is a great option to avoid external water issues.

It is incredibly important when looking for properties to buy (or even to rent) to know what the water source is and to understand that not all of Atenas falls into the same water category.  In any area, there are times when repairs need to be made and luckily, the AyA does a great job getting water distributed to the neighborhoods when there are down times.  So…now you know.  I look forward to the day when I hear again, “Oh yes, Atenas, ‘The Best Climate in the World’” instead of the town with no water.

Tina has lived in Atenas for 18 years and is co-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate.  Check out their  website at http://www.tnrealestatecr.com and Facebook page for updated listings.  Tina is always glad to answer any questions at tina@tnrealestatecr.com.  

How the banks are killing tourism and investment in Costa Rica

So, you think you want to visit the beautiful country of Costa Rica with your family and don’t want to tuck cash in your socks and underwear to do it?  No problem, you’ll just use an ATM for your cash, right?  Remember that first you have to notify the bank that you will be using your credit or debit card abroad.  Okay, you’ve done that.  Then remember that you will have daily limits on how much can be withdrawn in order to protect against fraud.  Ok, you can live with $500 per day.  But then you get to the ATM at Banco de Costa Rica and you realize that the ATM won’t give you more than $100/day.  At this time, Banco Nacional and private banks still allow more, but $100/day?  What family of 4 can vacation on $100 a day?  Not in Costa Rica.  So, what do you do?  For now, you go to every bank you can, pay withdrawal fees at each of them and unfortunately, waste a lot of time on your vacation.

Why this sudden restriction?  The answer I got is that the Hacienda (or the tax agency in Costa Rica) wants to track payments that previously have been done in cash and therefore, not reported as income.  I’ve also heard to avoid money laundering, although I’ve never heard of any money laundering that happens with only $500.

What if you want to bring down a student group for a trip?  They’ve paid for their trip and you need to figure out how to bring the money down to pay.  You can’t bring more than $10,000 without reporting it and who would want to carry that much cash anyway?  Forget the ATM (see note above).  You’re only here a week so opening a bank account is out of the question (and see the limitations below).  And third parties are not allowed to accept your money to give you here on this end due to money laundering concerns.  What do you do?  Do you have to make international transfers to each and every hotel, national park (which doesn’t accept bank deposits for payments), and restaurant?  Just how do you pay?  Make each child carry their own money?

What if you want to move down and buy a home?  No problem here.  Costa Rica allows foreigners to buy property and if you invest in $200,000 or more, you qualify as an investor for residency.  Just go open a bank account and move your money down, right?  Hmmm.   Banco de Costa Rica no longer allows anyone without a residency to open a bank account.  They have set up an easy to open account system for foreigners, but it limits the amount in the account to $1000.  Not going to buy a house on that money!  And with housing rentals at typically $1000 and up, how is a family going to live on this?  They aren’t.  Honestly, who decided on a $1000 limit?  So, you would actually have to make the transfer down from your home bank on the day of the closing, but make sure you have someone back home authorized to make the transfer for you.

So, once someone has their residency, they can apply for a bank account (at BCR), but the trick is that you can only apply for investor residency after you have bought a house (with no bank account) and have waited the approximately 6 months for your residency to be approved.  Of course, you might qualify for residency in another way, but you will still have to wait for the processing and approval before you can open the account.  What a mess!   Banco Nacional still allows people to open accounts on a passport, but yes, there is a lot of paperwork to have ready before you hit the bank.  Best to consult your local lawyer on that one so that you don’t waste your day just to find out you don’t have all of the papers.  And be prepared to sit in the bank for hours while the account is being opened (even though you have every document ready).  Then, once the account is opened, make sure you can verify why you are bringing the money in or it will be frozen.  Be able to present a contract to buy something at the time of the transfer to prove the reason for this influx of money.

I personally have my account at BCR and like the fact that the website is in both Spanish and English, but the recent restrictions have made new accounts and ATM withdrawals impossible at this bank for tourists and immigrants.  They claim that the other banks will soon be following suit as it is a government mandate.  I really hope this isn’t true because it is already difficult enough to travel or live internationally without these restrictions.  For the moment Banco Nacional is still opening accounts for foreigners with the proper documentation and Scotiabank has confirmed that they also are available to open new accounts.

Costa Rica is still one of the most amazing countries to visit and live in, but the banking restrictions are making it harder every day for the average tourist and immigrant.  If anyone has discovered legal ways to get around these restrictions, please comment on the blog as it would be very helpful to many.

For more information on opening a bank account and what you need to have with you, Cecilia Tristan, at the law firm of Gomez, Tristan, & Tristan can help you every step of the way.  Email her at Cecilia@gomeztristanytristan.com.  Tina Newton is co-owner of Tristan & Newton and you can contact her at tina@tnrealestatecr.com as well as through Facebook and the website.

The Big OOPS

What could be worse than two days before a closing on your house, you discover that you can’t close because the registry information doesn’t match up?  Oops! We’ve all heard horror stories of properties being sold that don’t officially belong to the person that sold it or official sizes being way less than the offered size, for example seeing an original plot map (plano) of 5000 square meters but pieces were sold off and it is no longer the actual size of the property.  Then there is a long legal battle to correct it (if there is any way to correct it after purchase).  However, there are more simple and honest mistakes that can happen in the system that can still stop your sale until it is corrected.

We’ve heard it a million times.  Check your credit score and history to make sure all is accurate before you need credit.  This is true for more than credit scores.  Before you decide to sell your house and even if you aren’t planning on selling anytime soon, check the registry for your property to make sure all is correct.  Make sure your name, identification number, and the information about the property is correct and updated.  Even when you know that the property should be in your name and that there aren’t any true discrepancies, such as a property being in the name of a family member that passed away years before, errors still exist in the system.  The registry in Costa Rica has many, many errors that you should make sure are corrected in advance or it can slow down or stop a sale and even if it’s not caught at the time, it can cause a new updated registry request to be rejected.   Nothing like the horrible feeling from the buying side that you just paid money on a property, the owners have left the country, and you can’t get the property passed into your name.  If they are legitimate, honest sellers, they will have to jump through hoops to get it all corrected both for the buyers and so the property doesn’t remain in their names with taxes and other liabilities still due.  And if they aren’t so honest or don’t want to bother???  Oops!

What kinds of errors can happen?

1.       Name misspellings.  If your name is misspelled, the registry can doubt it is you as it doesn’t match your i.d.  If the name is spelled incorrectly and does not match the i.d. spelling, a lawyer may have to swear that you are the same person and file that paper as well.  If the spelling is very different, it should be corrected completely.

2.       Unmatched name with identifications.  For example, using a name copied from a passport and an i.d. number from your residency which are not always the same.  Maybe the property was bought in a maiden name and now you are selling with a married name on your i.d.  You need to get it corrected and again have a lawyer justify that you are the same person.

3.       Incorrect or even expired identification numbers.  Each time your residency number changes or you change from a passport to an i.d., your registry doesn’t.  This may not cause a problem, but you will have to verify that you are still the same person by having a lawyer justify why the identification number is different.

4.       Properties in the registry which don’t match up with the plot (plano) numbers or sizes.  There are times when the plot registry has a different measurement for the lot than the registry of the property.  This should never be the case but it happens quite frequently.  This needs to be corrected for a buyer to have the correct size of property that is being bought.  This could be due to the plano not being updated with sales of pieces of the property or even a typographical error.

5.       Debts listed to the property.  Make sure that any loans that might have been taken against the property and are now paid are cleared off of the registry.  These are not taken off automatically but have to be requested to be removed.

6.       Easements that have not been updated.  All easements should be listed in the registry of the property.  However, if something has been eliminated or added, it is important to check that these changes have been made.

All of these apply if the property is listed to a corporation as well; checking who has the write to sign in order to sell and therefore, making sure that all names and i.d. numbers match up.  These things are not difficult to check and a lawyer or even your real estate agent should check these at the time of listing your property so you don’t get down to the moment of closing a sale and have a surprise.  If you are a buyer, your agent should also be checking the registry to make sure all is correct before closing.  However, in the end, it is up to you to stay on top of it and make sure someone is confirming this.  All of these issues listed above are usually minor and can be corrected fairly easily, but it takes a little time and you wouldn’t want to lose a deal because of a typo.

To avoid your “oops” moment when selling a home, contact Tristan & Newton Real Estate through the website or by email.  Making sure that all is smooth and easy in your home selling and buying process.  Names to Trust…Homes to Cherish.

Spring Cleaning in Costa Rica

Now that “winter” or the rainy season is heading out and “summer” or the dry season (and high season) is heading in, it’s time to do some serious spring cleaning. The rains can do damage and leave everything smelly and moldy.  So, to prepare your house for the high season, it is important to do a little “spit shining”.  What to do and where to start?

Start from the top and work your way down.

1)      Check the roofs and the gutters to make sure all is in good shape and that there are no left over blockages in the gutters that will produce mosquitos until everything dries out completely.

2)      Check the ceilings for any spots that might have been caused by backed up gutters in the heaviest rains or from mold which can build up just from the humidity in the air.  Replace, clean, or repair.

3)      Check the paint inside and out.   Are there areas that might have been damaged or need a bit of refreshing?  Even a good scrubbing can take away some muddy dog prints that might have been left on the walls.

4)      Check in and behind the furniture and closets.  ALL of it.  Especially with wooden or leather furniture, mold can hide behind from the humidity and smell really bad.  For some people, they won’t even know what is wrong but will get a sudden headache from being in your home and it might be something you don’t see but is lurking behind the furniture or inside drawers.  Personally, I wipe it down and Lysol it as that is supposed to kill most mold spores.  I’m sure there are other options out there as well.

5)      Air everything out.  Things just get stuffy in the wet season.  Air out mattresses and covers.

6)      A deep down scrubbing on the floor will get the tracked in mud out and then you will be back to just sweeping and mopping dust again.  Don’t forget the entry way and the front and back porch areas as well.  The cleanliness of your home is seen long before anyone steps in the front door.

Now you know why the locals call the rainy season, winter.  So, in the transition month of November, get your cleaning gear out and prepare for the sale.  Spring cleaning, here we come!

Please add your own best cleaning tips and share them with everyone.  Tina is a Realtor and half-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate.  Feel free to send her any questions at her email and check out the properties in Costa Rica on the Facebook page (like to see the newest updates) or on the website.

Do you need residency to buy a house in Costa Rica?

No, you don’t.  Anyone can purchase a home with their passport or local identification (cedula).  However, living here on a tourist visa can be a hassle as you have to leave the country each 90 days and then return on a new tourist visa which is normally automatically renewed for 90 days for North Americans or Europeans.  Unfortunately, it is up to the agent at the counter for the length of renewal and you might assume you were renewed for 90 days and then look at it later and see only a 60 or even a 30 day renewal.  The government is also always threatening to crack down on “perpetual tourists” which are those that constantly enter and leave on a tourist visa.  It hasn’t really happened yet, but it’s always good to be prepared.

There are a few different ways to qualify for residency.  In my case, I was married to a Costa Rican and qualified in that way, but if you are not, then you have the “pensionista” or “rentista” options in which you must show a monthly income of $2500 per month or you can be an “inversionista” which means you have invested at least $200,000 in the country.  This can be in a business or by buying a home.  As I was writing this, a new Tico Times post just popped up on Facebook with the same general topic, so I’ll share the link here.

Applying  for residency requires some patience, but it’s much less stressful if you bring the needed documents in advance and if you have a trusted lawyer to file it all for you.  You will need your birth certificate, your marriage license, and a police report which need to be apostille or certified by the State Department office in your area or certified by the consulate.

Finding a great lawyer is a must in Costa Rica because basically all documents and processes require a lawyer in some way, including every property transaction.  You can also set up your own Costa Rican corporation which is very beneficial if you aren’t currently a resident.  For other processes, you might not need a lawyer, but having someone to represent you who speaks the language can make these tasks, such as opening a bank account, a lot easier.  Once you have gone in and tried to understand the logic and requirements in opening an account, you will understand completely.

Tristan & Newton Real Estate is always glad to help with all of the home purchasing and selling decisions and make everything go as smooth as possible.  Any questions you might have about real estate or living in Costa Rica in general, just email Tina or check out the website for more information.  For any legal or residency issues, Cecilia Tristan with Tristan & Newton and the law firm, Gomez, Tristan, & Tristan, is always available and enjoys guiding people through the process.  Both are bilingual (Spanish and English) and can help you in whichever language you feel more comfortable. 

 

 

What is Your Heat Index?

Coming to Costa Rica is just coming to Costa Rica, right?  Nope.  Costa Rica has many different styles of living and climates.   If you are thinking of coming to Costa Rica, you should visit the country, many parts of it.  You have to determine what is right for you.  Think about what you need in your life to make you happy.  It’s extremely important to look at the positives as well as the negatives so you can make a decision that is right for you.

The Beach!!

dolphin-6Everyone who wants to come to Costa Rica wants to live on the beautiful beaches, but the reality might not be ideal for everyone. Costa Rican beaches are amazing and the views are spectacular, but you have to remember, the beach is HOT.  So, if you are a person who doesn’t appreciate the heat, this area may not be for you.  The disparity in incomes is more obvious as you have the ocean-front mansions next to small, local homes.  This disparity often creates higher crime areas, so home protection is very important.  Also, beach communities are usually more transient with tourists coming and going and the community there to support this business.  beach-shotFinally, the beach areas are remote in the sense that if you have to do paperwork in the capital, you can be 2-6 hours away and healthcare facilities are also further apart.  On my recent visit to Guanacaste, I was surprised that as much as this area has grown, you may have to drive quite a distance to get to the gas station or a major supermarket.  Sounds discouraging, but if you really love the beach and all it has to offer, then this is for you.  There are some truly spectacular beaches and being immersed in nature is still possible.  On the other hand, if you like easy convenience and a real community feel, then check out some other options.  

Highlands

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Okay, so if you aren’t into the heat and prefer the cooler weather, Costa Rica has that as well. Heading up in altitude will cool you down.  The areas of Monteverde, Tilaran, and Poas in the north or Dota, San Isidro, and San Vito in the south are higher in altitudes where the quetzals fly.  The weather tends to be cooler with more rain.   I’ve often gone during a crisp day, thinking “THIS is my weather.”  But then I remember that with the rain comes a lot of cloudy days and chilly nights and I get chilled easily. 20160110_113026 (Copy) However, for someone who loves to cuddle up around a fireplace in a sweater after a beautiful sunny day, it’s perfect and, again, Costa Rica is small, so a trip down the mountain will warm you right up.  The community aspect also tends to be stronger than in the beach areas because people live there year-round.   Again, you have to decide for good and for bad, what you enjoy.

Major City

Convenience!  00q0q_1zsbcd5nfal_600x450Yes, everything from malls to fast food to great medical care.  Oops, and the traffic that big city life brings.  Security also becomes of primary importance.   If you like everything right around you and the action of it all, then city life is for you.  If it seems stressful and overwhelming, look somewhere else. 

 

Small Town

20160229_083028If you are looking for the welcoming community feel with an immersion into the culture, small towns are the places to look.  These are places where people have lived all of their lives and know everyone, and everything, that everyone does.  Remote?  Some are, and some could be as close at 15 minutes to the big city. You can even combine a small town up in the mountains outside of Heredia which gives you easy access to the city without living directly in it or a central town like Atenas that is 45 minutes to the center of San Jose and an hour to the closest beach for vacations.  20160906_092856.jpgOkay, I’m a small town girl, so you might see my preference, but small town life is not for everyone.  Some people need more action or to be on the beachfront or completely isolated.  That is not for me to decide, that is up to you.  But it is important to know that about yourself and check out these different areas before you make a permanent decision.  You don’t want to invest a lot of money in one environment, just to find out that in 6 months, this was a bad decision for you.

We, at Tristan & Newton Real Estate never want to push you into anything that isn’t right for you.  “Names to Trust…Homes to Cherish” is our motto.  We are happy when we find that perfect home for you and helping you determine the right home is part of the job.  We have fabulous homes all over the country and we work with other real estate agents to find the right home for you if we don’t have it listed ourselves.   Feel free to contact Tina at tina@tnrealestatecr.com for any questions about living in Costa Rica and check the website and Facebook pages for more information.cecilia-y-tina