One of our duties as realtors is to answer the frequently asked questions that our clients have about Costa Rica and the possibility of living here. If your question isn’t answered or you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly. That’s what we’re here for.

Frequently Asked Questions...

Investing in Costa Rica

You’ll be happy to know that foreigners have the same rights when buying a property or purchasing land in Costa Rica as the locals do.  You can own the property outright in your own name or in the name of your corporation.  The one exception that may apply is when the property is located in the Maritime Zone. Which may apply to the first 200 m from the high tide line. This is also called “Concession Land” where special rules apply.

If you decide to go ahead and purchase a concession property, consult with an attorney to make sure the seller has the rights to occupy the land and is in a position to offer you the rights to that land. The land use rights can range anywhere from 5 to 40 years although most concession properties offer 20-year occupancy rights. Be clear that you are essentially signing a long-term land lease not purchasing the property in fee simple. This structure is similar to the Native land leases that are available in Canada and the United States. This usually applies to land on the lake shores or protected areas.

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Why should I invest in Costa Rican real estate?

  • Tourism opportunities abound in Costa Rica
    1. Adventure travel
    2. Seniors travel
    3. Baby Boomers retiring – finally
    4. Eco and Wildlife tourism – all ages
    5. Medical and Dental tourism – safe and cost-effective
  • Financial and Personal Security in Costa Rica
    1. No formal military – everyday life is less stressful
    2. Stable democratic government
    3. Various levels of police force
    4. Organized and protected financial system
    5. Good quality and affordable health care
  • The Incredible Weather
    1. The tropical weather in Costa Rica is warm all year round.
    2. Guanacaste is known for its dry and sunny winters and less rain throughout the year
    3. Evenings are a pleasant temperature even in the Central Valley
    4. No SNOW!
  • General Lifestyle and Atmosphere
    1. Pura Vida – a term that means a lot of different things. Pure Life is the literal translation but it is more a way of life.
    2. Friendly outgoing people – local and Expats
    3. An educated population
    4. Named one of the Happiest Countries
    5. Home to one of the famous Blue Zones
  • Amazing Natural Beauty
    1. Volcanoes
    2. Rivers
    3. Plains
    4. Mountains
    5. Hot Springs
    6. Ocean shores
    7. Fabulous sunrises and sunsets
  • Real Estate Opportunities
    1. Incredibly low property taxes at ¼ of 1%
    2. Affordable homes and land
    3. Ocean front and ocean view properties
    4. No foreign ownership restrictions
    5. Relatively low cost of living compared to the US and Canada
    6. Growth encouraged by the Costa Rican government
    7. Local investment in infrastructure including roads and airports
  • Costa Rica is committed to green and sustainable environments
    1. Renewable energy opportunities in wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro and solar power
    2. Protected National Parks
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Costs and Financing

Financing for a non-resident through a bank is complicated and comes with strict documentation requirements. The interest rate from a Costa Rican bank or finance company is between 6% and 12% for a US$ mortgage. Most of the deals in real estate are cash or owner-financed by the Seller.  The owner financing is usually for a short- term of 3-5 years with down payments in the range of 30-60%. Sometimes the buyer can get better rates and faster approval obtaining a first or second mortgage in their home country on an existing property. Many have taken advantage of drawing on a line of credit or HELOC to free up the cash.  The cash can then be used to buy property in Costa Rica.

If you are from Canada and want to chat with a Canadian mortgage broker who also happens to own a condo in Costa Rica, contact Tammy Wandzura.  She will be happy to chat with you and help you find ways to access funds from your present home. Email: tammy@elitemortgagechoice.com

Another great alternative when purchasing an investment property is to utilize your IRA or 401K.

Contact Tyler Carter at NuView Trust for more information on how you can tap into your IRA and purchase that investment property in Costa Rica. Email: info@nuviewira.com

 

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How to Purchase Real Estate Using an IRA

All expenses are paid by the IRA, and all income belongs to the IRA.  When properties are purchased with cash from an IRA, no taxes are due when rental income is received, or when the property is sold.  There is no need to go through the expense and complexity of 1031 tax-deferred exchanges, as the entire IRA is tax-deferred (tax free within a Roth IRA).

Many of the American RE/MAX clients here in Costa Rica have taken advantage of the flexibility that purchasing an investment through your IRA or 401K offers.

For more information, contact Tyler Carter at NuView Trust for more information.  Email: tcarter@nuviewira.com

As for the Canadians, we may see some changes in the CRA rules that will allow us to use the funds in our RRSP accounts to purchase foreign properties but that’s not the only option.  Many Canadian investors are starting to pull funds from their RRSP accounts and use that money to purchase a vacation home. They take the tax hit and start enjoying their retirement early.

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Closing costs in Costa Rica have many components.  The costs not only cover the legal fees but a variety of stamps and other taxes.  Here is a breakdown of the fees as of December 2017.  All prices are in US funds.  In our area of Guanacaste, it is customary for the buyer to pay the closing costs.  The seller will pay the 6% listing commission as well as the 13% sales tax on the commission amount only.

♦ Legal fees range from 1 – 1.5%

♦ Transfer stamps and taxes are around 2.5%

♦ Registration of the new title is 0.5%

♦ Transfer Taxes are 1.5%

♦ Timbre Archivo $1.00

♦ Timbre Municipal 0.2%

♦ Timbre Colegio de Abogados $100

♦ Timbre Fiscal $100

♦ Escrow fees range from $650 – $1000

♦ New corporation costs if needed are approximately $1000

♦ Mortgage costs are variable depending on the situation of the buyer This type of mortgage registration is assessed at approximately 0.25% of the sale price plus 0.53% of the sales price in documentary stamps. An additional 0.5-1.25% of the mortgage amount is due in notary fees.

 

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Costa Rica’s very low property taxes make this a very appealing investment – 1/4 of 1% annually.  That means if you buy a condominium or home with an assessed value of $200,000 the property taxes per year would be $500 or a $100,000 2 bedroom/2bath condo would be $250.

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When purchasing a condo or home in Costa Rica,  it’s critical to thoroughly understand the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) costs. Below you will find a breakdown of what the condo or HOA fees may include in Costa Rica.

The majority of people who purchase a property in Costa Rica are not living here full-time.  Condo developments help provide the security and services that are vital for absentee owners. It’s nice to be able to close the door when you leave and know that everything will be taken care of while you are gone.  Condos also make great vacation rentals. Your guests will appreciate a clean pool and well-maintained landscaping.  That peace of mind makes buying in Costa Rica possible.  However, with that security comes a cost that is shared by all of the owners.

Gated communities are usually set up under a “condominium structure”.  If you purchase a single family home, you will likely pay an HOA fee for the common area maintenance. The various items the property management company takes care of will determine the monthly fee.

Costs that MAY be covered by the condo or HOA fee:

♦ Common area water

♦ Common area cable or internet may be provided by the association

♦ Pool Maintenance (unless a private home)

♦ Common area and pool electricity

♦ Landscaping

♦ Property Management Fee

♦ Reserve fund

♦ Improvement fund

♦ Security guard

♦ Structural insurance on the buildings

So you can see from this list, there are a variety of items that may be covered by your condo fee.  These fees can range from $90 – $700/month.  It is an important part of your buying decision to know what the fee covers.  Knowing that someone is taking good care of your property if you live out of Costa Rica for at least part of the year is reassuring.

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It is becoming increasingly more common to use an escrow company for most real estate transactions in Costa Rica. Costa Rican law requires that any escrow company or agent must meet the requirements set out by SUGEF for the management of third-party funds.

The Buyer and Seller in a business transaction would designate a third party, who is not directly involved in the sale or purchase, to control the funds before closing. The escrow company acts as a “safe” place to deposit your funds while the transaction is being completed and indicates your commitment and “good faith” in going forward.

The most common scenario involves a variety of phases throughout the purchase. Initially, the Buyer would advance the deposit or earnest money to secure the property. The funds are not released to the Seller until conditions in the offer are met and the closing happens. The Buyer may be obtaining financing, completing any repairs agreed upon or addressing any number of items outlined in the sale agreement. The Buyer would send the balance of funds once the conditions are complete.

The escrow company is then responsible for disbursing the funds as determined in the contract. This distribution may include legal fees, escrow fees and purchase proceeds.  It will also include the commission to the agents, reimbursements for a home inspection as well as a variety of other possible expenses.

By using an escrow company in Costa Rica assures the Seller that the earnest money is on hand and secure and that the Buyer has the intention to proceed with the deal. The funds will be returned to the Buyer if the conditions in the contract are not met or are considered unsatisfactory during the Due Diligence period. Therefore it is critical that the instructions are clear as to the terms and conditions that apply, as well as the instructions for making the closing disbursements.

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Legal Aspects to Consider

The new online title system provides free access to information recorded in the National Registry. It also provides a method available to obtain certified reports such as the Plano Catastro which is a type of property survey. This report outlines the dimensions of the lot or project with boundaries and measurements. Certified title reports or historical ownership research is an essential part of any attorney’s responsibility in the purchase process.

In addition to recording title, the National Registry also indicates whether a given property has any encumbrances or easements associated with it. Registry records are public and are accessible via the Internet or in person at various branches throughout Costa Rica. Not all land in Costa Rica is titled, so it is extremely important that your attorney provide this research as part of his due diligence. Also, the property may fall within the Maritime Zone, national parks, many wildlife reserves or within designated indigenous areas.

This due diligence is part of every sale or purchase in Costa Rica and worth every penny!

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Foreigners will be pleased to hear that they have the same rights as a Costa Rican when it comes to purchasing a property. It is a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

You don’t have to live here to own a condo, home or land in Costa Rica. It is wonderful news especially for those investors looking to diversify their real estate portfolio outside of their home country.

The only exception would be as it relates to concession land. Your attorney would prepare the due diligence and advise you on foreigners owning this type of property.

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Hiring an attorney or lawyer to facilitate the sale or purchase of a property is a must. Most attorneys are also a Notary. They perform a vital role in the entire process.

The attorney will not only register the sale and update the title but help and guide you every step of the way. He will help with the due diligence to ensure that the property has a free and clear title. Any easements attached will need to investigated and explained clearly. Not all easements are detrimental but one wants to be sure that all is in order before the closing.

It is imperative to use an attorney that always uses an escrow company that is registered with SUJEF. Some of them may have an escrow in place.

Should things go sideways, the attorney can also handle any arbitration or negotiation on your behalf. Consider them a valuable part of the team as you go through the purchase or sale process.

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Using a Real Estate Agent

In Costa Rica, real estate agents are not licensed.  However, the Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors (CRGAR) and the Costa Rican Chamber of Real Estate Brokers (CCCBR) have long promoted mandatory real estate licensing. For years the CRGAR Association has been educating its members on benefits of joining The National Association of Realtors (NAR) which offers a very stringent code of ethics, ongoing education and the ability to legally call themselves a “Realtor,” with the registered “R” trademark.

♦ Promoting professionalism
♦ Undergo ongoing education
♦ Familiar with local laws
♦ Experienced
♦ Educated in the local markets
♦ Network of other professionals to work with
♦ International designations and certifications
♦ Legally allowed to work with their residency or citizenship

Despite these benefits of using a real estate agent, it is important for you to know that there are no formal licensing requirements for real estate agents in Costa Rica. The courses provided by the two associations are an essential part of the formal education that all experienced professionals should have as a minimum requirement to work with you.

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First time in Costa Rica?

Yes. There are a variety of banks offering ATM machines.  In the Playas del Coco area there are 7-8 machines available dispensing both US dollars and colones. You’ll generally pay between 0 and 1% exchange commission, plus flat fees of $1-3 per transaction.

Banks are generally open from 9 AM to 3 PM; a few have extended hours. You may need to be prepared for a wait, though; lines and bureaucracy can make getting money at banks an endeavor that requires a bit of time and patience.  If you prefer not to carry a lot of colones, most international credit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rica, as are U.S. dollars.

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Exchanging dollars is relatively easy in Costa Rica and US dollars are widely accepted.  Costa Rica’s national currency, the colon, fluctuates in value to the U.S. dollar and has drifted downward against the U.S. currency in recent years, with the banks paying about 565 colones for $1 in December 2017.

coinYou can get local money when you arrive at the San Jose or Liberia International Airports. However, if you aren’t able to do this when you land, there are many local banks that offer both local and international banking services and can exchange foreign currencies, provide cash advances on credit cards. Be sure to take your passport with you when using the teller banking services.  A copy of your passport is usually not accepted.

ATM machines are widely available and are a great option to withdraw money when you need it.

original-11Remember to keep your dollar denominations small. Large denomination bills such as hundreds or even fifties may not be accepted.

Ideally, you will want to carry some colones while in Costa Rica, especially if you plan on traveling to out of the way places. Small hotels, restaurants and shops prefer colones but will accept US $.

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Rent a Condo vs Hotel? Which one is right for you?

Vacations should be just that – a vacation from your daily routine with less stress.  That should be one of the important considerations when deciding to reserve a hotel room or rent a condo/vacation home.

Having said that, booking into an all-inclusive hotel might be just what the doctor ordered.  No cooking, no cleaning etc.  BUT…. what if you have picky kids who can never find what they like on the buffet? Or perhaps you like your quiet morning coffee and the thought of seeing 100 other guests for breakfast is a little overwhelming.  Then perhaps renting a condo or vacation home is the right way to go.

Occasionally the reason for the vacation is to socialize because your job doesn’t allow for casual chit-chat all day.  Resorts host all sorts of interesting characters to get to know. Sometimes you are traveling on your own and feel more comfortable with plenty of people around.  Other times, you may just like to enjoy the sun and read a book undisturbed.

The other challenge with many of the hotels or resorts is that they are rather secluded and it is difficult to walk to town and mingle with the locals. Shuttles help but everyone is always watching the clock so they don’t miss their ride.  Holidays are to relax not watch the clock.

What we’ve found is that there is a time and a place for every type of accommodation. In Costa Rica, there are a variety of rental units that suit most people on vacation.  Booking into a hotel room is more for the one or two night stays while traveling through an area.  If you want to get a feel for the town, enjoy the local cuisine and nightlife, rent a place for a week or more.

Of course, you will always find the Snowbirds who fly south for the winter to escape the cold who stay for up to 6 months.  Perhaps that is on your bucket list one day….

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No, to enter Costa Rica, you must show proof of onward travel unless you have Costa Rican residency status. This could be an airline or bus ticket to exit the country within your 90 day stay (not necessarily back home). Airlines do not always ask for this documentation but Costa Rica Immigration may deny you entry without proof of onward travel.

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There are two international airports. One in Alajuela, the Juan Santamaria International Airport most commonly known as SJO and one in Liberia, the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport more commonly known as LIR.

⇒ Arrivals and Departures @ LIR ⇐

⇒ Entry and Exit Requirements @ LIR ⇐

Airlines
 

Central and South American Flights 

✈ Copa Air @ www.copaair.com

✈ Nature Air @ www.natureair.co.cr

✈ SANSA @ www.flysansa.com

✈ LACSA/TACA @ www.taca.com

 

 

International Flights

✈ United @ www.united.com

✈ Air Canada @ www.aircanada.com

✈ AirTransat @ www.airtransat.com

✈ Westjet @ www.westjet.com

✈ Jetblue @ www.jetblue.com

✈ Frontier @ www.flyfrontier.com

✈ Delta @ www.delta.com

✈ American @ www.aa.com

✈ Air France @ www.airfrance.com

 

Tip: Don’t Forget to Allot Time for the Departure Tax

US or Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica for up to 90 days. Your passport will need to be valid for the duration of your stay, and you’ll need to be able to present an exit ticket. However, unlike many countries, you will need to get a special exit visa (departure tax) upon leaving the country, and this cost 29 USD at the time of writing. A few airlines like American, US Airways and Copa have recently added this to the ticket price, but most others will have to join the lengthy line at the airport to take care of this pesky fee.

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Driving in Costa Rica with a Foreign Driver’s License

If you’re visiting Costa Rica as a tourist, you will not need to obtain an International driver’s license. Your foreign driver’s license from your home country will be valid for 90 days (3 months).The most common question is “What happens after the 90 days ?”  The maximum amount of time that a tourist can legally stay in Costa Rica is 90 days (3 months).  The validity of the license is tied to that time frame as well.You will have to leave Costa Rica and then re-enter to get another tourist visa which will, in turn, validate it for another 90 days.

I have a Residency application pending. Do I still need to leave every 90 days?

The Immigration and Traffic Laws are two separate pieces of legislation.  With your residency application pending, you can remain in Costa Rica.  Once you obtain your residency, you will no longer be required to go out of the country every 90 days to ensure that your driver’s license remains valid – if you plan to drive that is.

Leaving Costa Rica every 90 days certainly has a significant impact on the foreigners who are in “tramite” or in process. This is not only time consuming but can be expensive if visiting Nicaragua or Panama for a few days.

Once you have residency, you can obtain a Costa Rican driver’s license.

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Yes. They often conduct routine immigration checks at busy locations such as bars and beaches. Most people don’t think to do this but you should always carry around with you a photo copy of your passport. You never know when immigration police will be where you are so it’s best to keep a copy (safety reasons) for identification.

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Questions about medical care? We've got you covered...

Public Ambulance & Main Emergency (Red Cross) — 911 or 2697-1141

Private Ambulance Service 24/7 — 8308-9986

Liberia Public Hospital — 2666-1016 or 2666-0011 (Downtown Liberia)

Hospital San Rafael Arcangel — 2666-1717 (Liberia)

CIMA Hospital — 2690-8500 or 2690-8520 (Next to Do It Center)

Clinica Biblica – Clinic and Pharmacy: 2667-0891 (Next to Do It Center)

EBAIS Clinic Playas del Coco: 2670-0987

EBAIS Clinic Sardinal: 2697-0142

Filadelfia Public Clinic: 2688-8276

 

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Absolutely!  There are at least 3 doctors here in the Coco area that offer great medical care and advice. They are affiliated with the hospitals in Liberia and San Jose so will take good care of you.  We highly recommend the following doctors:  Dr. Pablo Valenciano, Dr. Hanzel Larios or Dr. Alejandra Mendez Rodriguez.  There are a variety of specialists who take office days in the Playas del Coco area as well.

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2670-1717 or 8830-4087

2670-1235 or 8308-9986

  • Dr. Alejandra Mendez Rodriguez and her medical assitant and partner José Conejo have a Medical Assitance Clinic open 24/7 in Playas del Coco

8808-8111 for Dr. Mendez and 8382-1815 for José Conejo

or by email: alitass@gmail.com and conejo.ig@gmail.com

 

For day to day health care any of the Individual Doctors and private Clinics are very good and can help you with most of your health issues.  If you need emergency care requiring immediate attention it is probably best to call the private ambulance service and have them take you to one of the private hospitals.  If you have international health insurance then most likely an emergency service will be covered.

You should check your insurance coverage to make sure.  If you have decided to use the public system then you have done the research and know what is required to get care.  If you have an existing condition or would feel more comfortable then schedule an appointment with one of the private Doctors listed above and discuss an emergency plan with them.

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Medical Tourism (also known as Health Tourism) is where people who live in one country travel to another country to receive medical, dental and surgical care. While at the same time receiving equal to or greater care than they would have in their own country, and are traveling for medical care because of affordability, better access to care or a higher level of quality of care.

“Domestic Medical Tourism” is where people who live in one country travel to another city, region or state to receive medical, dental and surgical care while at the same time receiving equal to or greater care than they would have in their own home city, and are traveling for medical care because of affordability, better access to care or a higher level of quality of care.

Information sourced from www.medicaltourismassociation.com

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It is up to you but Costa Rica actually does not have a problem with malaria. However you do need to bring insect repellent to prevent dengue and chikungunya.

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Looking for the best option for your child's schooling? Here are a few...

Lakeside International School Located in Sardinal

Day Care and Pre-Kinder through High School

Website: www.lakesideschoolcr.com

Phone: 506-2667-0166

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Dolphin’s Academy located in Playas del Coco

Day Care and Pre-Kinder through High School

Website: www.dolphinsacademycr.com

Phone: 506-2670-1064

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CRIA Located in Brasilito, Guanacaste

Phone: 506-2654-5042

Formerly known as Country Day School of Guanacaste, CRIA now stands for Costa Rican International Academy. CRIA (“criar” means “to grow” in Spanish), is now an independent, non-profit community school. It is a private, U.S.- accredited nursery school through high school. It offers boarding options for international students, study abroad programs, and much more. They have an incredible campus filled with state of the art facilities  –  a near-Olympic-sized swimming pool, covered gym, theater for school plays, etc.

The student/teacher ratio at CRIA is at 8:1, with class sizes averaging at about 15 students (similar to the top tier private schools in the US).

Visit their FaceBook or their Website

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Escuela Cacique
Playa Panama
506-2672-1112
Kindergarten through 6th Grade

Escuela El Coco
Playas del Coco
506-2670-0491
Kindergarten through 6th Grade

Escuela Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa
506-8566-1512
Kindergarten through 6th Grade

Escuela Bernardo Gutierrez
Sardinal
506-2697-0116
Kindergarten through 6th Grade

Escuela Libertad
Libertad
506-2697-1226
Kindergarten through 6th Grade

Escuela San Blas
San Blas
Kindergarten through 6th Grade

Escuela Artola
Artola
506-2697-0238
Kindergarten through 6th Grade

Liceo de Guardia
Guardia
506-2667-0148
High School

Colegio Tecnico Profesional Sardinal
Sardinal
506-2697-0197
Technical High School

Colegio Playas del Coco
Playas del Coco
High School

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Questions about what it's like in Costa Rica...

Yes, unless you are in rural areas, the water is safe to drink.

However, we still recommend buying bottled water as the minerals in the water here are different than what you may use to. If you have a sensitive stomach, it is safer to drink bottled water.

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Costa Rica is 51,100 km² or 19,730 mi². In other words it is roughly the size of Denmark or the state of West Virginia. An interesting comparison …. You can put 21 countries of Costa Rica into the Canadian province of Ontario.

It has 7 provinces: San Jose, Cartago, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, Alajuela and Guanacaste. Each has a unique culture that makes it special.

Be sure to take time to travel within the country to see what each province has to offer.

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The current 2017 population of Costa Rica is approximately 4.91 million, which is up from the 4.58 million at the 2011 census. This makes Costa Rica the 120th most populous country in the world. However, this number does not include the nearly 2.2 million visitors that Costa Rica sees per year!

A population density of 84 people per square km (107th in the world.) The capital and largest city is San Jose, which has a population of 288,000 and a high population density of 6,455 people per square km. The greater metropolitan area has 2.15 million residents, or a third of the country’s entire population. San Jose is one of the safest cities in Latin America.

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Costa Rica is home a great number of volcanoes – there are six active volcanoes and another 61 dormant or extinct ones. For the past fifty years, Arenal was the country’s most active volcano. Although it entered into a resting phase in 2010 – meaning that its eruptions have taken pause for the time being – Arenal still is one of the country’s best-known and most-visited volcanoes.

There are, however, many other volcanoes that are worth exploring. Most are caldera volcanoes, whose craters are filled with water and rising steam. Poas Volcano, Rican De La Vieja, Irazu Volcano, Tenorio Volcano, Turrialba Volcano are Costa Rica’s most notable volcanoes.

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Earthquakes

Earthquakes are quite common in Costa Rica with small ones occurring daily and tremors strong enough to feel a few times a year.  Major quakes strike about once a decade but no tourist has ever been killed or seriously injured by an earthquake in Costa Rica.

The tourist infrastructure and modern areas in Costa Rica are generally well prepared for earthquakes.  Building standards include earthquake “proof” engineering to prevent collapses and natural gas pipes are not used which greatly reduces the danger from fires.  Emergency personnel are well trained and respond quickly.

Tsunamis

A few years ago the tsunami disasters in Southeast Asia and Japan raised awareness that offshore earthquakes can be more devastating than onshore ones.  The shape of the seabed off the shores of Costa Rica is not particularly suited to the formation of tsunami waves.  Recent major earthquakes off the coast of Chile (> 8.0) and in the central Pacific triggered Tsunami warnings in Costa Rica but all resulted in nearly unnoticeable increases in wave heights on the shores.

In most areas the ground rises sharply away from the beach.  There has never been a significant tsunami recorded in Costa Rica but if you are concerned about the possibility of a tsunami “ocean view” accommodations well out of the reach of the waves are readily available in most beach areas.

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are not a major concern here as Costa Rica slips just under the the band of Caribbean and Pacific hurricanes. The shape of the Gulf of Mexico dictates that the storms turn north soon after entering. (See our Weather page for current storms and weather predictions)

 

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Some of the traditional foods you will find in Costa Rica are gallo pinto (rice and beans), casado (variation of rice, beans, plantains, salad and meat) and arroz con pollo (rice with chicken)

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In Costa Rica, you can find all sorts of tropical fruits. Some you may have heard of are cantaloupe, mango, lime, pineapple, papaya and plantains. Others you may not have heard of are cas, guava, tamarindo, jocote, soursop, coconut, mangosteen, granadilla, yuca, rambutan, passion fruit and mamone.

       

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Costa Rica does not participate in Daylight Savings Time nor does Costa Rica have different time zones. It stays put in UTC -6 Central Standard Time.

A little history; In 1784, Benjamin Franklin started Daylight Savings Time but it was a drawn out debate and was not fully implemented until 1916. However, Costa Rica no longer participates in Daylight Savings Time changes.  This changed in 1992.  Until then the country followed the standard “spring ahead” and “fall back” strategy.

There is only a single area code for the whole country (506).

 

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Yes, Costa Rica uses 110 – 120 volts, the same voltage as US and Canada. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not typically need a converter or adapter. Your blow dryer, curling iron and other small appliances will work fine. Those of you from Europe, it’s best to bring your own adapter as they can be hard to find easily in Costa Rica.

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Despite popular misconception, Costa Rica is NOT an island! It is the country connecting Panama and Nicaragua in Central America. Costa Rica forms a small portion of the Panama Isthmus bordered by the Caribbean Sea on the East side and the Pacifico Ocean on the West. It is the country sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua in Central America. The country enjoys over 1200 km of coastline on both the Caribbean and Pacifico coasts.

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Yes, Costa Rica has its own public transportation with many private bus companies offering to take you all over the country. Many of the buses have fixed schedules to the major cities and towns.

Getting to the smaller towns is a bit of a challenge but with a little ingenuity and patience, you can do it.  Most tourists who decide to tour the area to the more remote locations opt to rent a car.  It is by far the easiest way to get around if going off the beaten path.

Helpful Links:

Interbus ► https://www.interbusonline.com/home/home.asp

Tica Bus ► http://www.ticabus.com/esp/

Grayline ► http://www.grayline.com/Liberia_Guanacaste

Nica Bus ► http://nuevo.transnica.com/

Public Bus Schedules ► http://www.liberiacostaricainfo.com/BusScheduleLiberiaCostaRica.html

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Roads are Costa Rica are not paved quite as nice as North America but any road through the major cities and highways are all paved. You will encounter unpaved roads if you go into the rural areas or small towns. As you venture off the beaten track, you will likely need a 4 X 4 in case you need to drive through a local creek or to dodge the potholes.

Many of the major highways are paved with some having recently been resurfaced.  The roads linking the major towns and cities are also in good condition.

They are constantly improving on the roads. Every year the government commits to improving the number of paved roads throughout each province which is good for tourism and certainly improves the daily life of the local people.

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The official language is Spanish although as the country welcomes immigrants and tourists from around the world, it enjoys a more diverse culture including hearing various languages spoken by both tourists and residents.  Costa Rica also supports 5 recognized indigenous languages. As is the case in much of the Spanish-speaking world, English is not widely spoken in Costa Rica, particularly if you’re going off the beaten path away from touristy zones. Learning a few basic words and phrases in Spanish, as well as the correct pronunciation of place names, will go a long way to making sure you stay safe and avoid the overpriced tourist traps. The local ticos are generally friendly and won’t mind helping you practice your Spanish attempts.

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Costa Rica’s rainy season usually ranges from early May to the end of October.

The dry season, considered summer by Costa Ricans, is from mid-November to April. In Guanacaste, the arid northwestern province, the dry season lasts several weeks longer than in other places. Even in the rainy season, days often start sunny, with rain falling in the afternoon and evening.

However, there are slight variations of these two seasons due to many micro-climates in the country so one part of the country may have a longer or shorter “green” season.

The most important thing to remember is that it is always warm in the Guanacaste area regardless of the rain. If you ask any local or Expat, you’ll soon learn that the “green” season is their favourite time of year.

Here are some good reasons to visit during the green season:

♦ Lush and green vegetation and vibrant flowering plants and trees

♦ Fewer visitors  in town – more elbow room

♦ Reduced rates on rentals and hotels

♦ The waterfalls are spectacular especially after a recent rain

♦ Great time to plan your “summer” honeymoon destination or better yet, THE WEDDING!

♦ The Ostional arribadas are world famous for attracting thousands of female turtles who lay their eggs on the beach.  It is truly a sight to see!

♦ Deep sea fishing is even better from May to the end of November.  Record marlin, sailfish, dorado and many others test even the most experienced of fisherman.  Come and give it a go.

♦ Scuba diving is great at this time of year.  This is when the more experienced divers travel from around the world to see what the oceans off of northern Costa Rica have to offer.

Click here to book your next vacation rental

 

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Costa Rica is full of culture and history. Learn all about it...

Yes! Rodeo, tope, toro a la Tica (bullfights without the bloodshed) is a rich part of Costa Rican culture. There are many festivals and celebrations around Costa Rica filled with rodeo, street fairs, traditional food booths, fireworks and music all year round.

We recommend the Nicoya Rodeo & Fiesta Patronal as one of the best on the peninsula or anywhere in Guanacaste which is usually the beginning of February.

Check out this video to see what its like up close!

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Plenty of activities and adventures await you...

With happy hour from 1130 AM to 7 PM every day, the bar is a great place to meet other expats. Though you may find you’ll run into mostly tourists, many expats who live in Coco usually hold a get together or gather at one of the bars for their events such as karaoke, live music and game night.

Read our article on where to meet people in Playas del Coco…

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Visit their website to get all the info you need to go enjoy a night out at the movies. Movies are about 3500 colones per person (about 6 bucks) and they serve beer and snacks. They are located in Hermosa Heights in Playa Hermosa. 

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If you love to read but also love to socialize. Book clubs may be the perfect way for you to find just what you’re looking for in Costa Rica. Make friends and spend your time doing something you enjoy. Pura Vida! 

Check out the Papagayo Ladies Club 

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Have a great night out making new friends, painting a masterpiece and getting a little tipsy! It costs 35$ per person and the first two drinks, pizza and all painting materials are included. Paint Club is every Wednesday 5:00pm at Bambu Beach Front Bar in Playas Del Coco. You can sign up in advance with PayPal… for more info: paintclubcostarica@gmail.com
Visit their FaceBook to get notified on future events.
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The beautiful Chiriqui Highlands have long been one of Panama’s most favorite vacation and retirement spots, and the jewel of Chiriqui province is beautiful Boquete home of about 25,000 including some 2,500 retired expats from all over the world.
The natural beauty of Boquete is the perfect setting to stimulate the creative talents and artistic abilities of those who live here as well as those who come for a visit. So it is no surprise that this small town hosts a lively art and music scene which culminates in the annual Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival.

Right from the start in 2007 the Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival has been the biggest music event in the province of Chiriqui. Since 2012, the event was also the first ever festival in Panama to showcase first-class international Blues acts in addition to notable Panamanian and Latin American artists featuring Jazz and Latin American music styles, and they were a great success! 

 

Get the feeling of what the Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival is all about…
Outstanding talent performing, smiling faces, beautiful places, everybody’s dancing and having great fun…what a great community event this is!
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El Teatro Nacional, or the National Theater of Costa Rica is located in the central section of the capital city and was opened to the public on October 31 of 1897. It is a must see for anyone visiting San Jose, as it is known for its exquisite interior design with lavish furnishings and art performances. When you visit the National Theater, you will understand why everyday Costa Ricans are so proud of it.  It is an architectural and cultural gem and a vital part of the country’s history.

 

 

Teatro Popular Melico Salazar Located in front of the central park in San Jose, this neoclassically designed theater is a noticeably distinct face in the capital city. El Teatro Popular Melico Salazar exhibits many works of art from the Spanish Museum of Art. In addition, recent renovations include new cascading balconies, a new third floor, a rebuilt stage, and an orchestra dais. The theater maintains a full schedule of events such as concerts, recitals, and plays. Come visit during its season from April to December.

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Walking through San José, Costa Rica is a great way to experience the culture of the capital city. While shopping, you can visit several enchantingly green public parks, see an astounding amount of street art, and get a taste of life as a Josefino. The best souvenir shopping can be found in several open-air markets such as the vintage original Mercado Central, bursting at the seams with emblazoned gear and all sorts of kitsch, but also a trove of unusual finds like herbs from a Chinese apothecary and a colorful selection of chorreadors, traditional Costa Rican coffee makers. Just outside the Mercado is the pedestrian only Avenida Central, which stretches for several blocks and is home to multiple modern clothing stores, an array of eating establishments, and so many public art displays along the way, from wall murals to bronze statues. If it’s original Costa Rican art you’re shopping for, find Galeria Namu near the Jade Museum for its collection of pre-Colombian pottery, colorful Boruca masks, intricate woven baskets, and carved tagua figurines, sourced directly from the Costa Rican artists and artisans. The Souvenir Museum makes sustainable shopping fun and educational with its evolving assortment of local handmade goods.

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Stroll through the streets and you’ll hear cumbia, 80’s beats, American Top 40, and Latin pop drifting out your neighbors’ windows – music is a staple of Costa Rican life. It comes as no surprise that local papers constantly announce visiting musicians, upcoming music festivals, and big name concerts scheduled for the coming months. In Costa Rica, evenings out often include live music, whether you’re dancing to a Latin band or chilling at a local coffee house.

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Karaoke is a great way to get out and let loose and it has long been a favorite past time in Costa Rica. If you love to sing your happy little heart out (or watch people sing) all night long you will love the way Costa Ricans do it! You can find a local karaoke spot in just about every town in Costa Rica.

Our favourite happens to be right here in Playas del Coco. Laugh and sing all night at Karaoke Night at Coconutz Sports Bar on Tuesdays from 7:30 pm til late into the night. 

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Crisscross the tree canopy on swinging bridges suspended in the jungle.around Arenal volcano, go on a river safari, or hike trails to discover Costa Ricas winged wonders. With around a quarter of its land protected from development, Costa Rica is a bird lover’s delight.

Immerse yourself in the misty cloud forest or near a sputtering volcano and peer up at a dazzling array of avifauna on guided visits to pristine national parks, nature reserves, private sanctuaries. Visit research centers like the Monteverde Institute to learn about conservation and sustainability efforts.

Train your eyes and binoculars on the trees in Costa Rica’s biodiversity hotspots, including lowland and coastal tropical rain forests, volcanic foothills, and cloud forests. You can spot colorful tropical species such as resplendent quetzals, tanagers, macaws, toucans, spectacled owls, and hummingbirds.

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Developed out of 38 years of experience on the most grueling race courses in the world, Ironman has set a new global standard for endurance sports education. Push your body to the limit.

The race covers the streets of San Jose from La Sabana Park toward the airport, giving runners a chance to wind through 26 miles of an urban jungle landscape. The event, which typically takes place in December, is open to visitors of various ages and skill levels. Wheelchair-bound participants can also take part in the marathon. Additionally, many people line the streets to see some of the top runners from around the country test their abilities on a demanding course.

The largest mountain bike event in the country. Spanning more than 240 miles of trails from coast to coast, the four-day event is a stage race that has time limits for each leg of the trip. However, those who do not finish in the allotted time can still continue and complete the race. Dozens of fans line the trails to witness the impressive athletes competing in this race, which generally takes place in October or November.

 

 

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Costa Rica has so many activities to explore there truly is something for everyone…

  • Cycling
  • Kite surfing
  • Stand up paddleboard
  • Surfing
  • Fishing
  • Ziplining
  • Rafting
  • Snorkeling
  • Spear fishing
  • Sailing
  • Yoga and pilates

And that’s just to name a few. Feel free to ask us any questions you have about sporting activities!

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Coco Gym     

Located in the Pacifico Village Shops – C No. 5 – Playas del Coco 

Highlights info row image +506 2670 0200 or Visit their FaceBook

RAW Outdoor Fitness     

Located in Sardinal
Highlights info row image +506 8580 7539 or Visit their FaceBook

 

Blue Zone     

Located between Coconuts Bar and Zi Lounge, Playas del Coco, Guanacaste
Highlights info row image +506 8706 4486 or Visit their FaceBook

Go Fitness     

Located in Detrás de Plaza Colonial, El Coco
Highlights info row image +506 8763 6653 or Visit their FaceBook

 

Bulldog     

Ocotal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Highlights info row image +506 2670 1147 or Visit their FaceBook

Shape Up Fitness     

Hermosa Heights, Panamá, Guanacaste
Highlights info row image+506 8329 9731 or Visit their FaceBook
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Volunteering always feels good! Here are a few ways you can pitch in…

  • Fundraising efforts for the backpack program
  • Assist in the schools
  • Toys for Tots drive at Christmas
  • Teach English
  • Rebuild areas damaged by weather and storms
  • Visiting seniors or provide some home care assistance
  • Beach cleanups
  • Monkey bridge fundraising
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Do you have a question we haven’t included in this FAQ?

Send us a message and we will do our best to answer all of your Costa Rican questions!

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