Sep 072010

Half of my family is from Canada, eh.  My mother grew up in Newfoundland until the age of 13 when my grandfather found work in California.  The extended family that stayed behind, some later moving to Ottawa, would frequently visit us in the San Francisco Bay Area, especially during the cold, winter months.

A few years ago, when I moved down to Costa Rica full time, I realized there are a lot of Canadians visiting (102,471 in 2009*) and living the area.  One of the main reason Canadians (virtually all nationalities for that matter) visit, buy land, and in some cases, relocate to Costa Rica is the weather.  As one client put it, “Shoveling snow sucks.”  I have only experienced it a couple of times in Lake Tahoe, California, and I’d have to agree.


Canadians in Costa Rica

Shorts, No Shoes
The Southern Pacific Zone (The Zone) is the tropics.  Those living near the beach are rarely (if ever) cold here, and most people walk around in shorts 365 days out of the year.  For those who “melt in the heat”, The Zone’s unique geography offers many cooler locations up in the mountains, most offering spectacular views, waterfalls, and close proximity to the beaches and/or San Isidro, one of the fastest growing cities in Central America.  It rains 6 months out of the year, but even in September most mornings begin with blue skies and sunshine.

Active Adult Communities
The landscape and its wildlife are spectacular.  In fact, I’ve seen it written that the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula is “home to more plant & animal species than all of North America combined.”  Add in the many outdoor activities available in the area— world class sport fishing, whale watching, bird watching, hiking, golf, tennis, and surfing to name a few — and retirement in Costa Rica is actually when many expat residents really start living.  In fact, I just left two clients who were headed to a waterfall, then to the Whale’s Tail in Uvita for a low-tide beach walk and snorkeling session.

Another reason Canadians love Costa Rica is the cultural adventure.  It starts with the ticos.  On the whole, the polite locals are family and community-focused, and even the toughest-looking hombre will break into a smile if you smile.  Yes, there are a few cultural nuances to adapt to—“yes” doesn’t always mean “yes”, “tico time” means being late, strange driving habits— but ultimately these are all opportunities to take a deep breath and grow a little.  The Zone has a safe, laid back feel to it… add a hammock and a good book into the mix, and it is relaxation-defined.

A “Lot” For A Little
Foreign investors continue to visit and invest in The Zone.  Add in the fact that annual property tax in Costa Rica is .25% and there is no Capital Gains Tax, and the investment picture is even more appealing.  Canadian citizens who claim non-resident status and have residency in Costa Rica are not double taxed by the Canadian government on their Costa Rica income.  If you’ve always wanted to make Costa Rica your home, please consult your tax attorney for more details.  But, in summary, to be a non-resident Canadian you must—

  1. live in Canada for less than 183 days in the tax year
  2. not have any residential ties (e.g., cars, houses, a spouse or dependents) in Canada.

We see a lot of people visiting, buying and relocating to The Zone.  There is so much room for growth here, success only requires imagination, a little research, and some good connections.

Beautiful weather, abundant wildlife, friendly people, and good investment opportunities… no wonder so many Canadians are buying real estate in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica!


May 052010

Talk Show – Episode 7

Talk Show – Episode 7

Pura vida, compadres! With a focus on Costa Rica real estate, Episode 7 features our impressions on topics like–

The Rainy Season
Property Prices
Seller Financing
The NEW Forum

Thanks for watching and following us on Dailymotion, Facebook, Twitter, and our websites–,,, and

Mar 232010

If you ask the World Bank or one of the mega-water corporations (e.g., Coke, Nestle, Vivendi), fresh drinking water is a commodity. If you ask virtually everyone else in the world (including the United Nations), fresh drinking water is a basic human right. Whether it is the encroachment of privatization or Nicaragua’s plan to divert the San Juan River[1], water in Costa Rica is an increasingly lively topic.

Water is a necessity.

One of the most popular questions for potential property owners is, “What is the water situation for this property?” Most of these new investors come from North America and Europe, areas that have hundreds of years of infrastructure development.  However, this southern Pacific region of Costa Rica is still early in the cycle of development.  We continue to see rapid growth in communications (cell phones and high speed internet), power (high tension power lines), and roads (the newly paved Costanera between Quepos and Dominical).  That being said, cell phones are a luxury, but water… is a necessity.

Property In A Development

Most quality developments have a water system that has been installed by the developer.  The most common sources for these systems are high flowing springs, and in some cases surface water (e.g., creeks and rivers).  Some developments, like Osa Estates in Uvita, even have back-up systems and extensive water storage capabilities.  The interesting thing is very few developments actually have a concession (permission to extract water from the ground).  The good news is the majority of them are “in process”.  Either way, the developer usually provides the property owner a prevista (water right document) which guarantees use of water into the future (assuming the property owner is in compliance with established CC&Rs and other laws).  Proof of a water document, like a prevista, is also required by the local Municipality before they will approve any construction project on a property. Continue reading »

Aug 282009

I was standing in the outfield at the Saturday Softball game in Uvita, when the feeling hit me. It was the warm feeling you get (and I’m not referring to the direct sun variety) when you are with a group of people having fun. In a word: community.

We have a special one down here in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica. Perhaps it is the international mix of ex-pats— Germans, French, Italian, Swiss, Argentinean, Canadian, Mexican, African, Chinese, and the list goes on. A variety of backgrounds and personal stories better than any television series— the crazy Italian chef turned humble bread maker, the ex-radio personality turned successful bar owner, animal activists, people activists, retired couples from Atlanta to Ibiza…. the list is long and varied. It’s diversity meets adventure meets pura vida, and we love it.

Softball Group Photo

For many investors, Costa Rica has been (and continues to be) primarily a smart place to put your money. And, that’s fine; investing is encouraged given the bright future of the country and region. But, for those people considering a permanent (or semi-permanent) move down to Costa Rica, the reasons stretch beyond democracy, economy and sunshine.

Variety evolves culture. This is especially true with the exotic cuisine found in the area; there is even a restaurant named Exotica, and it is excellent. In addition to numerous Tico restaurants, international options include—French fusion, organic Italian, Japanese sushi, Curry Night, and yes even elements of “the western diet” satiate the The Zone’s inhabitants.

Uvita Farmers MarketIn addition to these restaurants dotting the landscape, a staple of any conscious community is the farmer’s market. There are in fact two weekly farmer’s markets in The Zone—Thursday and Friday in the fast-growing city of San Isidro, and the Saturday Farmer’s Market in our sleepy beach town of Uvita. This relatively new farmer’s market offers an increasingly broad array of (mostly) organic produce, baked breads and pastries, homeopathic elixirs, and hand-made gifts. I consider all of these wonderful vendors “artists”, as you only need to grow or create something and share it with others to qualify. In fact, we have more photographers, painters, writers and musicians per capita than any place I’ve ever been. Perhaps it is this artistic quality that blends so nicely with the laid back, friendly nature of the Ticos.

Most of the people living here agree that the economic downturn is no excuse to lose sight of the importance of doing what we love. In fact, it compels us to re-adjust our sights on something uplifting and sustainable. Simply put, Ben and I love helping people invest in property in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica. We love every aspect of this service—putting deals together, hiking around large farms, chopping tall grasses with machetes, designing new websites…. all of it. In fact, work doesn’t feel like work at all. Experience tells us the recent drop in property prices will soon hit bottom (if it hasn’t already), and another long rise will begin.

This coastal area, as my friends in California like to say, is golden. The reasons are many—low population & construction density, great value, the Coastal Highway is almost paved between Quepos and Dominical, an International Airport in our future, it’s a tropical paradise. And, let’s not forget the original inspiration for this article—community. It’s not something you can put a price on. It’s something you feel.

Especially on days when you observe 20 gringos cheering for a Tico kid who hit his first home run.

Interested in Costa Rica real estate as an investment. They primarily live somewhere else, but they own property in Costa Rica for the asset appreciation potential as well as possible rental income. Some just buy and hold (land-bank). For developed properties, the investor has a vacation home to visit as desired.

Migrators spend a regular amount of time in Costa Rica during each year.

Re-locators are those that are looking to move to Costa Rica from wherever they are. They will live full-time in Costa Rica.