Living Off The Grid In Costa Rica

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My business partner Ben likes to call them the “End of the World-ers”. People who have reason to believe there will be major global changes in the near future. They are interested in buying land and living off the grid in Costa Rica. By off the grid I’m referring to not being connected to the … Read more

“El Diquis” Hydroelectric Dam in Costa Rica

The Costanera Highway, The Caldera-San Jose Highway, The Cortez Hospital, The International Airport and The Diquis Hydroelectric Dam… it is easy to see that Costa Rica is serious about improving its infrastructure and securing a bright future.

Over the past decade, the dramatic increase in tourism and investment has sparked a bit of a power-struggle between proponents of economic growth and socio-environmental protection groups. In this case, the “power” is the proposed billion dollar hydroelectric project called “El Diquis” near Palmar in the Osa Peninsula. This isn’t recent news, but I believe it is worth mentioning as it will affect life in various ways in the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica.

Hydroelectric power is BIG in Costa Rica.

The Zone Is HOT

This large-scale project, facilitated by I.C.E. (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad), is calling for the construction of a dam on the Térraba River in the greater Boruca Canyon. The dam will create a lake equaling approximately 25,000 surface hectares (over 6 million acres), the largest of its kind in Central America.  By comparison, Lake Arenal is roughly 8,500 hectares.

This station will generate up to 630 megawatt units capable of providing over one million families with electricity!  This project is about Power, both electric and economic.  According to a Continuum report commissioned by the Costa Rican government,

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Costa Rica, A Hurricane-Free Zone

While browsing the storefronts of Quepos the other day, I saw this Hurricane History Map in an office window.  What caught my attention was how Costa Rica was completely free of any direct hurricane/tropical storm trajectories.  People ask us if we get hit by hurricanes, and now it’s nice to have a chart showing just how ideally located Costa Rica is, especially on the Pacific side.  Clearly, the vast majority of tropical storms and hurricanes are born in the oceans to the west and especially the east of Costa Rica, and then almost always track north.  In recent years, only Hurricane Cesar and Hurricane Mitch (1996 and 1998, respectively) traveled all the way across the Central America landmass.


Even though Costa Rica is Hurricane-free Zone, it still feels the effects of heavy rainfall from time to time.

During the hurricane season, June 1st – Nov. 30th, Costa Rica will occasionally feel the effects of these major hydro-meteorological events.  Tropical storms are more common than hurricanes in Costa Rica, and it is important to note that heavy rain isn’t the same as heavy rain AND 100+ mph winds!

According to this NASA webpage, “Tropical cyclones are like giant engines that use warm, moist air as fuel. That is why they form only over warm ocean waters near the equator.” The small towns in our area (e.g., Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal) are located at approximately nine degrees north of the equator.  The benefit of being at this latitude, and on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, is the wind is significantly lighter than along the Caribbean storm corridor where hurricane winds can rip off your roof.  I suppose that’s why the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan called the Pacific Ocean, Tepre Pacificum or “Peaceful Sea”.

What Does This Mean For Pacific Zone Residents and Investors?

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Water In Costa Rica, Part Two

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.

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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.