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Festivals – Costa Rica Real Estate

Festivals – Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica is a country many consider to have the “Happiest People on Earth,” and this may or may not be so, but one thing for sure is that they love festivals. There are festivals throughout the country all year, with the largest number being held between December and March. In our little area of paradise, they can be found in almost every community, large or small. They feature many vendors who serve all the local dishes, including my personal favorite, “meat on a stick” – most often pork or beef that is seasoned, marinated, skewered and cooked over an open fire. Talk about tasty treats!

Another mainstay of the festivals is the horse shows and bull riding. Most have a “topa” or horse parade, and I am always amazed by the beautiful animals and skilled riders that come from all over the country to participate. Each festival has a bull ring where you can see local daredevils ride or taunt the bulls to crowds of dazzled spectators. We have seen contestants who have spurs strapped to their bare feet, along with professional looking riders, all of whom try their luck at riding massive bulls that are intent on shedding the rider and inflicting damage to the poor soul whenever possible. For the injured, they are placed on boards and transferred to awaiting ambulances through a cut-out in the wall of the ring. Few wear helmets or protective vests, and I’m sure the payout isn’t much for taking such a risk. Between riders you will see other young men run into the ring and tease the bulls, hoping to make it out quickly, lest they incur the bull’s wrath.

The festivals are a lot of fun, even if you choose not to watch the bull riding. It’s well worth it, with food/beverage vendor samples, arts and crafts vendors, music, rides and other activities.

Check out our lots for sale here: Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica Real Estate - Festivals Costa Rica Real Estate - Festivals Costa Rica Real Estate - Festivals

Go Wild in Costa Rica

Go Wild in Costa Rica

If seeing wildlife in the wild sparks your interest, Costa Rica is the place for you! You might even discover a new variety of bromeliad or orchid. Costa Rica has the largest portion of national parks and protected areas in the world. One quarter of the country is set aside to preserve the natural beauty of plants and wildlife. It has just 1% of the world’s landmass but 5% of its biodiversity. In other words, you can see a lot of different plants and animals in a small area, increasing your odds of spotting another bird for you list. Big cats, tapirs, four kinds of monkeys and iridescent butterflies are just a few of the species waiting to be discovered by you as you wander the parks and preserves of Costa Rica. Or you might be startled by a spiny-tailed iguana, the world’s fastest running lizard.

Go Wild Costa Rica

Talk about exotic birds! If you are a birder, there are over 840 species of birds that have been identified in Costa Rica. As in much of Central America, the avian species in Costa Rica are a mix of North and South American species so you can spot birds native to the southern hemisphere without going farther than CR. Quetzals, toucans, macaws and umbrella birds are among the most colorful and striking.

A pioneer of ecotourism, Costa Rica draws many tourists to its extensive national parks and protected areas. In the 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, Costa Rica ranked second among Latin American countries. It ranks third of sixty countries covered in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index. In the sustainable tourism category, Costa Rica is ranked first.

Plants and flowers may be of more interest to you. If so, be sure to look for the Guanacaste, or ear pod tree, due to the shape of its seed pods. It is the national tree of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Real Estate Trees

You will want to look out for parrot flowers, bamboo orchids, achiote and star fruit. You will be able to find most of these at a local market if you want to eat the fruits or take home the flowers. But seeing them in the tropical forest is amazing. It’s fun to see some old favorites in the wild, like ginger and cocoa. What a place!

Check out our lots for sale here: Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica, The Place To Be

Costa Rica, The Place To Be

Costa Rica, The Place To Be

For nearly 170 years Costa Rica has been among the most prosperous and stable nations in Latin America. You don’t read a lot in the news about the small Central American nation and that’s good. Since 1949 Costa Rica has had no standing army–the first among only a few countries in the world. No military coups here. Mexico has it’s drug lords, Guatemala its earthquakes and both have volcanoes, but Costa Ricans and ex-pats quietly enjoy their bit of paradise. No news is good news.

Costa Rica’s economy has been developing rapidly for the past several years. In addition to traditional agriculture, it now has ecotourism, pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development and finance. It is the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. Now that’s progressive! But if hunting game is your hobby, leave your rifles at home because recreational hunting is banned.

It’s nice to know that you are choosing to live in a country with a long life expectancy so you can enjoy the high standard of living among educated people. How do you know? Costa Rica scores high on the United Nations Human Development Index. The HDI is a measurement of life expectancy, education, literacy, standards of living and quality of life for countries around the world.

Among those quality of life factors, a good cup of locally grown coffee scores high. Costa Rica is famous for its gourmet coffee, Its Tarrazu arabica beans are among the finest in the world. While you sip, have a locally grown banana (a natural source of potassium). Bananas, pineapples and coffee are the three main cash crops. Contributing to a variety of agricultural abundance, there are several microclimates, allowing producers to grow tropical fruits and crops for temperate climates as well, like coffee.

Costa Rica holds presidential elections every four years, the latest in 2014. All elections have been widely regarded by the international community as peaceful and transparent. The citizens have enjoyed uninterrupted democracy since 1948. Similar to the US, Costa Rica has a strong system of constitutional checks and balances with executive, legislative and judicial branches.

The government offers tax exemptions for those willing to invest in the country. Costa Rica is highest in the region in attracting foreign direct investment. The Financial Times awarded Costa Rica as “Caribbean and Central American Country of the Future 2011/12” for this success. In 2007 voters endorsed a Free Trade Agreement.

Whether you are doing business or Skyping the grandchildren back in the USA, Costa Rica is in the Central Time Zone, so there are no intricate calculations to figure out if it’s too early or too late to call. That’s a huge advantage to math-challenged brains and family relations. It also means that you are in the same time zone as the office in Chicago or your broker in Dallas.

All these reasons–stability, growing economy, ecological responsibility, a high quality of life–make Costa Rica a great place to retire.

Check out our lots for sale here: Costa Rica Real Estate

They Speak English in Paradise! – Costa Rica

Guanacaste, Costa Rica  – Costa Rica

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

They Speak English in Paradise!

While Spanish is the official language, English is spoken by many people in Costa Rica–far more than in other Latin American nations. But if you want to learn Spanish, it is a great place for that. It will cost a little more than in nearby Guatemala, but the teachers are generally better educated also. If you decide to skip the Spanish lessons, you will find plenty of people who speak English to help you with whatever you are trying to do.

Costa Rica is slightly smaller than West Virginia. Because it is near the equator, there are about twelve hours of daylight and twelve of night all through the year. It has 802 miles of coastline, divided between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. So if you like the beach, fishing, surfing, sunbathing, you’ll love Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries. Its high standard of living and well-developed social benefits system set it apart from its Central American neighbors. Through its sustained social spending program (almost 20% of GDP annually) Costa Rica has made huge progress toward achieving its goal of providing universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. This makes for a better quality of life for everyone.

In fact, it is such a nice place to live that less than 3% of Costa Rica’s population lives abroad. The overwhelming majority of expatriate Ticos have settled in the United States after completing a university degree or in order to work in a highly skilled field. About 65% of the population live in cities, most of them in San Jose, the capital, which had 1.515 million people in 2011. There are 1.32 physicians/1,000 population and 1.2 hospital beds/1000. Hopefully you won’t need them, but it’s good to know that they are there. With over one million landline telephones and more than six million mobile phones, communication is no problem.

In addition to the consistently pleasant weather, there are loads of things to do in Costa Rica. You can hike the cloud forest or swing along rope and board bridge walkways in the rain forest at the level of tree branches. You’ll get a close up view of tree-dwelling wildlife. Or bum around the beach, surf and swim to your heart’s content. Or go out on a boat for some deep sea fishing and bring home a sailfish for your trophy wall. All this and more is waiting for you in the paradise known as Costa Rica.

Check out our lots for sale here: Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica, A Great Place to Retire

Retire In Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Costa Rica, A Great Place to Retire

Affordable and stunningly beautiful, Costa Rica is on many lists of ‘Top 10 number of Places to Retire Abroad.’ Living for less in a foreign land makes good financial sense in an uncertain economy. Or even just because being economical can get you so many good things.

NextAvenue.org ranks Costa Rica number three of five most enticing countries to retire in. It is number three with AARP and Boston.com, number four with Kiplinger, and number five according to International Living’s Retirement Index.

This index takes into consideration things from local entertainment to the availability of direct flights to the U.S. to senior discounts. There is plenty of local entertainment from nightclubs and upscale restaurants to the National Theater and National Symphony Orchestra. As for discounts, if you are a legal resident of Costa Rica, you can apply for a Ciudano de Oro (Golden Citizen) card. Once you have it, you can go to the front of any line (no waiting), get free bus rides and get discounts from 2-20% on many purchases. Even if you don’t have the card, it’s worth asking if there is a senior discount. You might have to show your driver’s license, but it’s worth the trouble for a discount.

Climate, cost of living, quality and availability of healthcare also enter the equation. You can choose your climate depending on elevation and other factors. The cost of living is about one third cheaper than most major US cities. Healthcare from English-speaking doctors is readily available. The size of the local expat community and the percentage of the local population that speaks English are also important factors. Check and check. Many US citizens have retired to Costa Rica, along with a few Canadians, Aussies and Brits. A large portion of the native population speak English as it is taught in the schools. You want to consider all of the things that make you comfortable in your surroundings, all of the details that makes it feel like home.

There are lists of the most economical places to retire, the most exciting, the most secure, and a myriad of others. As far as the world’s best climate, a lot depends on what you personally want. Some people thrive on sunshine and warmth, then there is the humid or dry question.  Others want some snow in winter or four seasons. It’s a matter of taste. The world’s best climate is pretty subjective. But pretty much whatever climate you want, you can find it in Costa Rica.

Whatever your favorite hobbies or sports, they are available, too. There are even some new adventures awaiting you, as well as new friends to meet. Or you can enjoy the familiar surroundings of shopping malls, supermarkets, museums and restaurants.  When so many authorities and trusted sources recommend Costa Rica as a good place to retire, shouldn’t you check it out?

Check out our beautiful real estate development in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Back in the Frozen North

Work was calling, so I’m back home in Michigan after 67 days in glorious Costa Rica. No, I have not been able to retire yet. Check out the photos of my first morning back at the office below – that pretty well says it all about ‘why Costa Rica?’ We took several road trips while there, and had a great time going through the rain forest, the cloud forest, seeing the sights, and visiting beaches we had not seen before. I loved it.

I’m looking forward to getting some lots sold! I’m running a special right now – the next 10 lots to sell have a special low price of $35,000. Only then will I be able to build my own home on the project and finally be done with these miserable northern winters. My builder of choice (Quad-Lock Systems in Costa Rica) puts up a great home, and the buyer has virtually any option for floor plans you might desire. As an added bonus, not only are you able to choose exactly what you want, but the home will be super fire-resistant and virtually earthquake proof – much stronger than standard construction methods.

Imagine your own two bedroom two bath home, with a carport and large porch (people definitely spend most of their time outdoors in Costa Rica), on a 1¼ acre or larger lot for a total price of only about $135,000. That’s hard to beat for a home in paradise! On top of that, you’ll have plenty of room to grow your own fruits and veggies, as well as room to enjoy your favorite activities. It’s a great way to enjoy paradise, whether you can be there full time, or decide to use it for a vacation and rental home. Now is the time to get yourself set up for a great retirement in a beautiful and peaceful country.

winter

Christmas in Costa Rica

Dear Readers,

I wanted to wish you all the best for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and share with you what we do with local folks when we are here in Costa Rica for the holidays. We help with a project that provides a Christmas in Costa RIca party for 37 children from poor families. First they are bussed to the golf course and get to spend a couple of hours in the pool playing with water toys (none had ever swam in a swimming pool before). Next we serve them a nice lunch with ice cream and cupcakes (that they get to decorate themselves). After that we give them all gift bags with things like new shoes and various presents based on their age. When they are ready to go home, we fill the bus with two large baskets of food and necessities for each of their families. Melts your heart to see the joy and surprise in the eyes of these children – but that’s what Christmas in Costa Rica is really all about, and it really feels great to be a small part of it all.

Hats off to the local friends who work on this for months ahead with bake sales, silent auctions, donations, and much more, in order to provide the funding and to do the shopping for all the gifts and groceries that are donated.

After the long day we go to one of our favorite beach bar/restaurants, La Vida Loca, for some adult beverages and conversation.

Best Wishes,
Jim & Sharie

Christmas in Costa Rica

Christmas in Costa Rica

Come to Costa Rica and see what is possible…

houses

I met with an American builder who has been working in our area of Costa Rica for a dozen years now and looked at several residential properties he has built. He is quite skilled and seems to have very good work crews. He can build a very fancy home for around $125 per sq. ft., or a standard home for around $90 per sq. ft. Buildings here must conform to specific CA earthquake standards. Wise buyers have their homes constructed with concrete block, reinforced with steel re-bar intertwining thru and between the block. This type of home in Costa Rica will easily withstand a strong earthquake, is very secure, and is pretty fireproof, depending on the interior finish. Most people go with granite countertops, and hand build wooden cabinetry and trim. Tile flooring is standard, and some opt for hardwood flooring. At Colinas del Sol,  Costa Rica a person could have a 1000 sq. ft. home fully finished including site preparation with large porch, as most people spend a lot of time outdoors here, for about $100,000. Add $35,000 for the lot, and $5,000 for attorney fee’s and permits, and can have a beautiful new home on 1 1/4 acre, or larger lot for around $140,000. A very good price for a home in a tropical paradise, with the room to have a hobby farm and raise your own fruits and veggies, and ornamental plants, along with some chickens for food and eggs. Want a horse too, they are inexpensive here and you have plenty of country roads to ride along. Add solar power, and you have sustainable living as cheaply as possible. We will also have a large fishing pond stocked with tilapia and catfish. Come to Costa Rica and see what is possible…

Beautiful HD Video of Costa Rica Wildlife

Note from Jim: I have not seen a live snake yet in my 15 years now of coming here, so a lot of this stuff is in the jungle/rain forest area, although there are coral snakes and rattlesnakes and some vipers in this area, but you really just don’t see them and they’re not an issue. We have seen most of the other wildlife, including a mountain lion, but no jaguars as they are very elusive and extremely rare in the NW Pacific area we are in, about an hour from the Nicaragua border. 

It’s amazing what thousands of dollars worth of video equipment can do. Captured using a Red Epic cinema camera, a series of Canon lenses and a Freefly Movi stabilization system, this is Costa Rica wildlife like you’ve never seen it before. The video was posted to YouTube by Jacob and Katie Schwarz, and we’ve identified most of the creatures in the short film so you will know what you are looking at when you watch this over, and over, and over…

Costa Rica Wildlife:

0:09 Eyelash pit viper
0:15 Three-toed sloth
0:29 Leafcutter ants
0:35 Red-eyed tree frog
0:42 Plain blunt-headed tree snake
0:59 Black river turtle
1:02 Emerald basilisk (the Jesus lizard)
1:08 Golden orb spider
1:22 Green and black poison frog
1:30 Scarlet macaw
2:02 Emerald basilisk in action
2:15 Eyelash pit viper (the golden morph is only found in Costa Rica)
2:28 Tiger rat snake
2:40 Eyelash pit viper
3:04 Three-toed sloth
3:35 Red galliwasp
4:38 Black-mandibled toucan
4:48 Costa Rican milk snake (also known as a false coral snake)

Reblogged from the Tico Times