Costa Rica’s Southern Zone is ripe for the picking. If you are interested in owning a second home in this stunning area, the time has never been better. You may be surprised to know what a popular destination this is for many American retirees—more than another country in Central America.
The country continues to improve its infrastructure. Just this January, the Costanera (coastal) Highway opened, replacing an old dirt road with one-way bridges and making for a smooth, safe and fast drive from San Jose to the Pacific Coast. The drive takes about three hours if you continue straight through, but if this is your first trip, you should stop and see the sights along the way.
Stop for coffee and enjoy the panoramic view of the expansive coffee plantations. Coffee is one of Costa Rica’s top three exports. Or pull over on the side of the road at Crocodile Bridge and observe the crocs sunning and swimming in the water, but don’t you dare dip your toes in! You also may take a curve in the road and come upon trees full of Scarlett Macaws and monkeys.
Costa Rica offers high-quality affordable health care. In fact, the World Health Organization ranks the quality of health care above that of the United States. Making the system unique is the fact that the government-sponsored network provides affordable medical service not only to Costa Rican residents, but to any foreign residents by paying a small monthly fee, based on income through the government-owned INS. Recently Pan-American Life Insurance de Costa Rica, whose parent firm is located in New Orleans, received final approval from the country’s insurance regulators to begin selling services.
Nature is No. 1 here. Costa Rica has the highest percentage of protected land in the world at over 31 percent. Costa Rica has committed to achieving “carbon neutrality” by 2021, when it will celebrate two centuries of independence. In fact, Costa Rica’s Nature Air was the world’s first airline to be certified as carbon neutral.
The nation has no army. It was disbanded in 1949; the money is used to educate the Ticos (as the Costa Ricans are known). There are, however, plenty of law enforcement personnel, including the Civil Guard and the commandos of the Immediate Action Unit. The money used for education has yielded Costa Rica a literacy rate of 96 percent, ranking it 68th in the world.
Costa Rica is a Zona Marítimo Terrestre, Maritime Terrestrial Zone, which comprises all land located within 125 miles of Costa Rica’s coastline at high tide. There is a Public Zone (31.25 miles from the coastline) and a Restricted Zone (the next 93.75 miles). If a property falls into either of these categories and a person holds legal title to it, it does not mean that it can be legally bought and sold. Thorough research and investigation by a reputable real estate professional will reduce your risks.
The Ticos are friendly people. Unlike most Central Americans, they are punctual and expect you to arrive on time for your appointment, which should be set up in advance and reconfirmed. They prefer face-to-face contact, so don’t be offended if you have a short phone conversation.
Costa Rica has several climate zones due to the diversity of elevations throughout the country. There are two seasons: High Season (Dry) and Green Season (Rainy). The Green Season runs from May through November and is the most inexpensive time to travel. December to April offers little or no rain, while September and October have the heaviest rainfall.
Working with other real estate professionals in Costa Rica is great. There is a REALTOR® association, Costa Rica Global Association of Real Estate (CRGAR), and it is the authorized licensing organization for REALTORS®. Their membership includes an affiliation with the National Association of REALTORS® and membership in ICREA (International Consortium of Real Estate Associations).
Pura Vida basically means the good life or full of life and is used interchangeably as a greeting, a farewell or just to express satisfaction. ¡Pura Vida!
References include: “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands” by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conway, Various articles from the Community Newsletter “Hacienda Matapalo” and Wikipedia.