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Guanacaste, Costa Rica by Joseph Emanuelli

Real information and stories from Guanacaste , Costa Rica. Presneted by a long time expat living and working in Costa Rica
Interesting and Fun Stuff about Costa Rica

Ø  “Pura vida” Your here it everywhere you go in Costa Rica. This is the national saying, a literal translations is “pure life,” It is used for many types of responses to a question  or as a greeting, goodbye, or if someone asks how you are doing.

Ø  “Ticos” for men and “Ticas” for women are terms the Costa Rican people call themselves. It is not derogatory in any way; while foreigners are often called “Gringos” and “Gringas”   basically refereeing to any person from North America.

Ø  If you see someone walking around with a machete, don’t panic, you’re not going to get attacked! Ticos use machetes for almost everything and often keep one on them.  A machete is the Costa Rican equivalent of how Americans use duct tape. It is more common in the agricultural sectors than in the city.


Ø  Costa Rica is not a very big country it measures only 285 miles (460 km) from the north to the south boarders and at the narrowest, it is only 74 miles wide (120 km). It is smaller than Lake Michigan and about the size of the state of West Virginia.  However Costa Rica features over 801 miles of coastline along the Pacifico Ocean and Caribbean Sea. From its highest point, Cerro Chirripó, with an elevation of 12,533 ft. you can see both oceans.

Ø  There are more than 121 volcanic formations in Costa Rica, and seven of them are active.  Poas Volcano has the second widest crater in the world and Arenal is one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world.

Ø  Monkeys are one of the most common mammals in Costa Rica – next to bats.  The four common species are the Howler, Spider, White-Faced and Squirrel.

Ø  Bug-phobist look out!  There are about 750,000 species of insects that live in Costa Rica, including about 20,000 different types of spiders!  Also, more than 10% of the world’s butterflies live here.

Ø  Costa Rica claims a 96% literacy rate.  In very poor and rural areas, where children can’t get to schools, they teach classes over a national radio station.

Ø  When a woman is pregnant they say she is “con luz,” or “with light.”


Ø  When a Tico/Tica is referring to their spouse or significant other or their other half, they are your “media naranja,” or the other half of your orange.

N      Names are confusing in Costa Rica.  Children take their father's name, but add their mother's maiden name to their full name.  So when you see a name on a business card like Carlos Jose Gomez Guzman, this person’s name is Carlos Gomez and the Guzman is his mom's maiden name.  Often this is abbreviated as an initial thus: Carlos Jose Gomez G. or even more commonly, Carlos Gomez G.

     Costa Rican women do not take their husband's last name.  The woman uses her full maiden name for life.  No changing of national ID cards, drivers licenses, etc.  She also adds her mother's maiden name.

Ø  Prostitution is legal but possession of pornography is illegal.  They even have unions, membership cards, health benefits, and police protection.

Ø  You aren’t allowed to wear sunglasses or hats inside of the banks

Ø  They have bullfights but instead of the bull being harmed, it runs free around the ring and tries to harm the brave teens and men who jump in there for sport.  Almost every little town has a festival with bullfights during the holidays.  

Ø  In Costa Rica, nearly all Catholic churches face west.

Ø  In Costa Rica, speed bumps are called son muertos, or dead persons.

Ø  There are usually no street names in Costa Rica so people get used to giving directions in relation to landmarks. In rural areas people will describe their official, legal address in ways such as "blue house just north of the big tree," or even "150 meters south of where the cow is tied up. 

Ø  At 7:00 a.m. every morning, all Costa Rican radio stations play the national anthem. Many also play it again at night.

Ø  Costa Ricans has a life expectancy is almost 77 years, one of the highest in the world.

Ø  Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is what’s called a “blue zone”- an area with an abnormally high amount of centenarians (100-year-olds). Five “blue zones” have been identified around the globe, but Costa Rica’s is the largest (the others are found in Japan, Greece, Italy, and Loma Linda, CA).

Ø  Need sunglasses or a phone charger?  Just roll down your window at most intersections in town and someone will be there to sell you one!

Ø  Come spend some time in Costa Rica!  You’ll have fun learning new things!

A Day at the Feria in Liberia Costa Rica

The Cost of 3 medium pineapples = 1000 or  $1.87. Yes….you read that right!  These are the juiciest, best tasting pineapples ever!

The feria (farmer’s market) in Liberia is open on Thursday afternoons and all day on Friday.  Each of the vendors sets their own prices and they are competitive.  And yes, you can even negotiate with them!  In addition to fruits and vegetables, you can also purchase homemade smoked cheeses, fresh farm eggs, fresh squeezed juice, plants such as basil, mint & rosemary, coconuts, and even bags of really good dirt!

Another great purchase this day was bananas! 22 bananas = 1000 or $1.87! where in North America can you get a beal like this?

You can save a good amount of money by purchasing your fruits and vegetables at the local feria. There are several smaller ferias in Playas Del Coco that are open daily.  The feria in Liberia is about 30 minutes away but it is much larger with more vendors. 

Can you buy your vegetables at the local supermarket?  Of course!  But again, you’ll save money by going to the ferias.  Plus, spending an afternoon at the feria is a lot of fun.  You get to interact with the locals, discover new vegetables and meet a lot of great people!  It’s a great adventure!!

So next time you come to the Playa Hermosa area, take a day and a short ride to Liberia and experience a true farmers market Costa Rica Style!! You won’t be disappointed.

Lot / Land For Sale in Playas Del Coco

Best Development in Costa Rica

• 767 sq. ft. lot / land "BIG OCEAN VIEW" - $170,000 USD - Just Reduced by $150,000

 -  Beautiful Ocean view lot in the exclusive development of Pacifico. The property measure 767 square meters and enjoys spectacular views of the Bahia del Coco, located half way up the mountain. The development features many amenities including Beach club with Spa, Restaurant and Fitness Center and not to forget the Lush Tropical Gardens, underground utilities, perfectly paved roads, 24/7 roaming security and much more. Centrally located in the town of Playas Del Coco and within walking distance to the beach, grocery stores, shopping, restaurants and the list goes on.
Do not miss your chance to own in paradise. The owner will entertain all reasonable offers and is motivated to move this property.
This wonderful property is being offered for only $100,000.
Just reduced by $150,000 motivated seller!!

Property information

A visit to Caja (The Medical System in Costa Rica)

Once you receive your official residency in Costa Rica, you become a “voluntary” member of Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS or Caja).  This enables you to access the socialized medical system here in Costa Rica.  By voluntary, this means you are choosing to become a resident and therefore are a voluntary member of the CCSS system. You are charged a certain amount each month based on your residency category.  Married couples pay as one unit.  In return, you are allowed to use the medical system in Costa Rica called Caja.  

To an American or other foreigners who are not familiar with socialized medicine, this can be a huge adjustment.  The main reason is because Caja does not have fancy offices or waiting rooms that many of you are accustomed to seeing

With this said, I have found that once you learn how the system works it is quite easy to use.  The hardest visit is your first visit.  You will need to be fluent in Spanish or take someone with you that is fluent.  This is when they will set up your folder and develop a medical plan for you.  All your background information is taken and recorded.  If you are on high blood pressure medicine, are diabetic, have high cholesterol, etc., they will set you up with an appointment every six months to monitor your condition.  They will go over what medications you are taking and what medications they have that are either the same or similar.  At this time the doctor will give you a script for blood and urine tests, x-rays, mammograms, EKG or any other test they deem necessary.  The Doctor will prescribe any medications necessary and you can pick them up at the pharmacy there in the clinic.  Medications usually take a few hours to fill so you must be patient.  This is not Walgreens!  Go grab a bite to eat or run some errands.

If you still have health insurance in the country you are moving from you may want to take all Caja results and let your family doctor review them.  I have been very pleased to find out that my test results have been spot on.  

 One thing you may hear about Caja is that it is a slow process if you need an MRI or other diagnostic procedures.  This is can be true depending on the situation so you will have to decide if you feel you can wait or if you need to seek private screening.

 All in all, the system does work.  You just have to be patient, literally, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results!

New Lower Gas Prices in Costa Rica

When gas prices drop in Costa Rica it is a big deal for consumers!  Costa Rican's pay some of the highest gas prices in all of Central America.  This decrease has been one of the largest and thus, most exciting for Costa Rica.

The Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) approved a new decrease in the per-liter price of fuel, the second consecutive one during January.  the approval will mean a 43 drop in the price of Super gasoline, a 49 decrease for Plus gasoline, and a 48 decrease for diesel. Per-liter prices will change from 580 to 537 ($1.10-1.02) for a liter of Super gasoline, while Regular gasoline will change from 552 to 503 ($1.04-0.95) and diesel will decrease from 522 to 474 ($0.99-0.90).  So on an average, we are now paying about $3.59 a gallon for Regular gas!  Yay!

This drop in pricing will make a big difference in the wallets of both the locals and expats that live in this beautiful paradise.

 If you've never been to the gas station in Costa Rica, it may remind you of the gas stations in the United States back before the 70’s.  Here, you never have to leave your vehicle.  Attendants pump your gas, will check your oil if you ask, wash your windshield and take your money!  Getting out and pumping your own gas is one habit that was easy to break, that’s for sure!  For those that travel late at night, have no fear…..most gas stations are open 24 hours a day!

2 Story For Sale in Playas Del Coco

• 1,500 sq. ft., 2 bath, 3 bdrm 2 story - $235,000 USD - Priced to Sell

 -  Welcome to Arrecifes the Playa del Coco Reef Community, located within walking distance to all the great amenities of Playas Del Coco, Guanacaste Costa Rica. This beautiful patio home with a well laid out floor plan and lots of natural light features over 1500 sq. feet of living space, fully furnished and turnkey ready to move in. The only thing to bring is your tooth brush and clothes. The Home features three bedrooms with two baths, master suite on the second floor with ensuite bath, private office and exterior terrace perfect for that morning cup of coffee or evening cocktail. The home is designed with an open kitchen w/ ample storage space and is adorned with solid wood cabinetry, granite counter tops throughout, and stainless steel appliances, built in convection oven and over counter exhausts system. Enjoy lounging around the common pool with built Jacuzzi and waterfall while your friends man the built in BBQ. This home has too many upgrades to list here and is a must see property for those that want a quiet safe community that is well maintained and a desired location. Very Low HOA fees of only $165 per month with 24/7 security make this a must have property! Offered for sale for
Only $235,000
Don’t miss your opportunity to own in Costa Rica. The market is heating up and this home will surely sell this coming high season.

Property information

Single Story For Sale in Pacifico

Pacifico Costa Rica Entrance
$10K in Rentals Already Booked for 2015

• 1,384 sq. ft., 2 bath, 2 bdrm single story - $247,000 USD - Competitively Priced

 -  Welcome to Pacifico Lifestyle 1114, Playas Del Coco, Guanacaste Costa Rica. This well laid out fully furnished 1384 sq. ft. condo features upgraded tile, marble and granite throughout. Custom handcrafted furniture adorns the master suite in addition to the en-suite bathroom. Enjoy afternoon breezes on the covered patio overlooking the classical pool and lush tropical manicured gardens and courtyard. This turnkey ready condo has a proven rental history and over $10,000 in rentals already book for 2015. As an owner in Pacifico you are afforded luxury resort amenities that include a private members only ocean front beach club with restaurant and bar, fully equipped gymnasium and spa, lifestyle activity pools with splash fountain, classical pool, BBQ pavilion offering fresh food & beverage service poolside, hiking trail with waterfall and picnic area. Centrally located in town and walking distance to everything Playas Del Coco has to offer. Once you land at the Liberia International Airport you are only a short twenty five minute drive to start living the “Pura Vida” lifestyle in Costa Rica.
Competitively Priced at only $247,000
Contact me today for more information

Property information

Single Story For Sale in Pacifico

•  single story - $247,000 USD - Competitively Priced

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Costa Rica Property a Sellers’ Biggest Mistake

As a professional real estate broker here in Costa Rica, I come across some crazy stuff and sellers that sometimes are very unrealistic. This happens to brokers worldwide as well but it seems to be a recurring theme here. Let me give you some back ground and facts before you start slamming me with your thoughts as I am sure this article will provoke some from any sellers that might read it.

Here in Costa Rica, if you did not know, realtors are not licensed by the government; meaning just about anybody can be a realtor and believe me many try. However there are two government recognized real estate association CCCBR “Camara Costarricense de Corredores de Bienes Raices” or in English “Costa Rican Chamber of Real Estate Brokers” and the other is CRGAR “Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors”. I happen to be a member of both and a past board of director member for CRGAR.  To be a member you have to go through the associations’ classes and pass tests in order to receive a license from them. By being a member in both associations, I am also a member of NAR, the National Association of Realtors that is based in North America. So I have a really good working knowledge of whats what in Costa Rica real estate as I have been here for almost seven years now do it.

Most people believe that a realtors’ main job is to get the best possible price for the seller, which is true, but it is only part of what we need to do to help the seller. The responsibility of the broker is also to help the seller understand the ramifications of holding onto a property to long. As an example more taxes, or home owners’ association fees, maintenance of the property, property manager and the list goes on. The broker is also a sounding board and has a wealth of information to help the seller.

Here in Costa Rica most of the sellers were originally investors from back in 2000 to 2006, when the market was a new up and coming market and screaming hot. Many people purchased property because of all the great things that Costa Rica has to offer. But over 60% of these past buyers which some are now sellers never really planned on living here full time. The purchase was either for investment purposes only or for a second vacation home. As we all know in life, the best laid out plans always change.

Well the market has changed as well, over the past 5 years, more and more buyer are actually looking to relocate to Costa Rica full time, for tons of obvious reason but that’s another article, and those that are selling have changed their plans. I know you saying about now reading this “when are you going to get to the point of this article”, easy now I am getting there.

Ok so one of the biggest mistakes a seller makes, but not the biggest, is over pricing their property from the get go. Even though the brokers they may interviewed and finally decide on tell them otherwise, they just do not listen. I personally have been interviewed by some sellers that when I recommended a selling price they call me every name in the book. I have heard” Oh your just trying to get me to a lower the price so you can make a quick buck” or I hear “ are you kidding me I paid $$$$ for my property I want to make a profit on it” and the list goes on from there.

In my professional opinion the really biggest mistake a seller makes is when the broker present an offer and the seller says “I am insulted by that offer, it is too low and I will not even counter back”. This is just plan lunacy! Real estate is a business, too many sellers let their personal feeling about the property get in the way of finally selling it. Never as a seller, be the one to walk away from an initial offer, always counter back!! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, like selling that piece of real estates you want to sell

I am writing this because I am facing this right now. I presented an offer to a seller. The property is priced according to the market and not overpriced, although it did take two plus years to get the seller to see the light and finally price it right. So you can’t say I was trying to make a quick buck. So I presented an offer to this seller two days ago, I immediately called them to discuss and emailed then the signed offer to review. We spent almost two hours on the phone discussing it and the seller said they would get back to me. This morning I get an email from the seller basically saying “I do not accept the offer and tell the buyer to jump in a lake”. Here we go, BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER and dumbest mind set ever!!! By not countering back they let a potential sale slip through their hands. The smart thing to do is always counter back, take the advice of the broker they hired; he or she is the pro, at least if they hired a professional. Yes the price may not be what they want, but in three years with no offers at least it is a starting point.

So after receiving this email I called then right away and discussed. They hired me to sell the property not fold like a house of cards when the table gets knocked a bit. I spent another two hours on the phone helping them realize based on market comparable properties, the present condition of the market, the condition of their property and a whole lot more, that they should never be the ones to walk away at the first offer. Let the buyers be the ones to walk away from a counter offer.

Just because the offer was low that does not mean the buyer may not have more money to spend, think about it, you go and what to buy a car, do you pay the sticker price? Or do you try to negotiate the price down. Buyers of real estate do the same exact same thing; they are trying to get the best price for the property they like. So don’t be offended, be smart and don’t make the same big mistake this seller just did when you are trying to sell your Costa Rica property if you have one.

If you don’t own in Costa Rica you should consider it as there are some really good deals out there still.

Thanks for stopping by and send any comments to me- Joseph Emanuelli @ jaaechef@gmail.com. If you have an interest in real estate or just starting to get a feel for the Playa Hermosa area of Costa Rica, click this link to my personal web site for more information. www.costarican-american-connection.com  or send me a note and I will help point you in the right direction. “Pura Vida”

Price Reduced on 47 Pacifico in Playas Del Coco

Playas Del Coco, Guanacaste  -  Announcing a price reduction on 47 Pacifico, a 767 sq. ft. lot / land "BIG OCEAN VIEW". Now $175,000 USD - Just Reduced by $50,000.

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Price Reduced on 4 El Real in Liberia

Liberia, Guanacaste  -  Announcing a price reduction on 4 El Real, a 2,100 sq. ft., 3 bath, 3 bdrm 2 story. Now $210,000 USD - Below Replacement Cost.

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Building a House in Playa Hermosa Costa Rica? It is Easy or a Nightmare?

Well about a year ago after a good search Pam and I finally found a lot that we really liked to build our Costa Rican dream home on. We spent probably 2 months looking around the area and standing on a lot of properties until we finally decided on the present location looking over the Pacific Ocean and still being in the Playa Hermosa area. We took a lot of things onto consideration, location, view, neighborhood, and ease of access and of course the ability to build on it.

I know there are a lot of web sites and blog sites out there that say what a nightmare it is to build in a foreign country including Costa Rica. Well that can be true even for Costa Rica, but the way to make sure that is not the case is to utilize the services of a reliable builder, one that you can communicate with. Remember English is not the first language here, Spanish is, so if you speak Spanish this is even better for you.

I know many people that have done just this, used a reliable builder and there are many. I also know a lot of people that though well if they work with a local builder that the restaurant manager or the hotel front desk dude or the tour operator told them about, they are going to get a better deal, “ I am going to get the Locals price” In the long run this is the biggest mistake so many people make. You have to look at it this way. Pay now or pay latter. The decision is all yours. So let me give you some advice here. PAY NOW!! Make sure you hire the right builder and engineer to make sure your home is built properly and to code. Be very suspicious when the guy that is building your dream says “Oh we can start now before we get the permits, this will save time”. If you hear this RUN and fast so you don’t lose your shirt and your dream does not turn into a nightmare.

Let me give you a quick break down of how this should go. This is a abbreviated versions but still on on course.

1)      Your builder should have a good designer on staff or know one that can do the floor plans and layout of the type of home you would like to build

2)      Once the design is completed, and this could take up to 2 months or longer depending on you and how many changes you make towards the design. When I did mine it took about 2 month. Then the plans will need to go to Costa Rica licensed architect to create the actual blue prints of the home.

3)      Once the blue prints are finalized and you are satisfied with them, the builder will need to submit and complete set of Plans to the College of engineers of Costa Rica. They will review the plans to ensure that the structure built meets the construction codes of the country. This process takes about 2 weeks if all is good.

4)      When the plans are finalized and approved by the college of engineers, then the builder will submit them to the local municipality for approval from the municipal engineer and the construction permits will be issued.

This is when the actual construction can start. Depending on the builder you utilize building in Costa Rica can be a very easy adventure. Average time from breaking ground to moving in is from 9 months to a year depending on the size of the house and the builder as well as any changes you make along the way. I know many people that say “But don’t I have to be there to oversee what is happening” well if you use the right builder you should not have to. Although I do recommend that at certain periods of the construction process you do come back for and meet with the build again, as you may have to pick out tile, bathroom fixtures, window styles, pain colors and so on.

In all honesty, the process of building a home in Costa Rica that I am going through right now, and we are almost at the end, has been a breeze and we even made changes while the construction started. I a working with  great builder that I can communicate with we are happy we chose the builder we did.

If you would like more information or a more detailed explanation please feel free to send me a email to jaaechef@gmail.com and I will be happy to set up a time so we can talk.

Thanks for stopping by and send any comments to me- Joseph Emanuelli @ jaaechef@gmail.com If you have a interest in real estate or just starting to get a feel for he Playa Hermosa area of Costa Rica, click this link for more information. www.costarican-american-connection.com  or send me a note and I will help point you in the right direction. “Pura Vida”

Playa Hermosa Costa Rica, Where is the rain for 2014?

Well it has been a long time since I wrote a blog here and I apologize about that, I am not making any excuses, although I might have some really good ones but I won’t. So you can call me lazy, you can call me not interested or whatever you want. It is just not worth going into.

As a lot of people may know I stated this blog post over a year ago talking about the weather here in the Playa Hermosa area. This year due to the fact of the el Nino effect in the Pacifico Ocean we are experiencing a drought. That does not mean that we have not received any rain, we have but not a lot. To date I have measured 13.3 inches of rain at my house in Playa Hermosa. So Far this year it has only rained 29 times since the beginning of the “rainy” season. As a comparison to last year to date, we had received 35.4 inches of rain as of September 12, 2013. The total days that we actually had rain was 52 days. So yes we are in a drought and down about 22 inches from last year, but not as bad as some areas in Central America and not as bad as some reports make it out to be.

If you ever had thought about coming to Playa Hermosa in the rainy season and were concerned it rains every day, don’t be. There might be a passing afternoon thunderstorm or a morning shower but there are always great things to do outside, even if it rains!

Thanks for stopping by and send any comments to me- Joseph Emanuelli @ jaaechef@gmail.com If you have a interest in real estate or just starting to get a feel for he Playa Hermosa area of Costa Rica, click this link for more information. www.costarican-american-connection.com  or send me a note and I will help point you in the right direction. “Pura Vida”


Price Reduced on 42 Palo Alto in Palo Alto

Palo Alto, Playa Hermosa  -  Announcing a price reduction on 42 Palo Alto, a 2 story "Legally Registered to build 2 Stories". Now $94,900 USD - Best Price in Development.

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Price Reduced on 27B Palo Alto in Palo Alto

Palo Alto, Playa Hermosa  -  Announcing a price reduction on 27B Palo Alto, a 2 story "Maximum 2 Story Contruction". Now $110,000 USD - Great Price- Ocean View.

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