KRAIN Blog Center
I get emails and requests asking how emigrate to costa rica and asking is it safe for the end of the world to come! Luckily I have some of the best lawyers in Costa Rica to help with your needs. I have personally emigrated here and can help advise you on what it takes to become a resident of Costa Rica. There is some paperwork involved and there are three primary ways to become a resident of Costa Rica and they each come with their own rules and regulations which we won’t fully go into here.
When you are emigrating to Costa Rica it is always best to obtain a lawyer and documentation prior to arrival. You will need passport photos, a local police report in your hometown, birth certificate, and passport copies (all apostilled or certified). Getting all this paperwork prior to arrival will save you some trips back and forth and many headaches. You will need to do interviews and fingerprinting here in Costa Rica. There is no special visa requirement for Canadians and Americans visiting Costa Rica. So, until you get your residency you will need to leave the country every 90 days to maintain your status as a tourist and not suffer any immigration consequences. Now on to the three main ways to become a resident.
The most utilized way to emigrate to Costa Rica is what is known as a “Pensionado” or Retiree. All you must do to qualify as a Pensionado is prove that you have a residual income of over $1200 per month coming from disability or retirement. It took me 9 months to get my pensionado residencia approved. The main drawback to the “Pensionado” residencia is that you may only work for your own Corporation or business.
Another easy way to obtain your residency is through being an investor. Any person can invest over $200,000 in Costa Rica property or business and then apply for your residency. The primary drawback is that you are unable to legally work except for your own Corporation and you must live in the country six months out of the year to maintain your residency.
The least utilized way to obtain residency is through “rentista” or renter. To be eligible for rentista status you must place $60,000 into a Costa Rica bank and then these funds are paid out to you through the bank at $2,500 per month for a period of 24 months. After 24 months, you will be required to renew the $60,000 deposit and payouts begin anew. At the end of the second 24-month period you will be able to apply for permanent residency. The primary downfall of this program is that you must prove you have a constant income of $2,500 per month, invest $60,00 twice, and you cannot work for anyone except your own Corporation.
Each of the above types of “residencia” are temporary residencies for three years and at the end of the three years you can file for permanent residency.
Residency is not difficult to obtain and Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world! What are you waiting for? Email Jeff@KrainCostaRica.com or call me at 312-888-5558 U.S. or 506 8411-5347 Costa Rica. I look forward to hearing from you. #immigration #emigration #emigrate #emigrating
Moving to Costa Rica is a wonderful adventure but once you are here some people can’t quite seem to adjust to the lifestyle or the climate and don’t notice the immediate effects on your body and mentality. I want to share some tips and hints on how to adapt quickly.
As soon as you leave the airport the air, sun, and the heat are completely different than what most people are used to. Even a person who loves the sun and tans on a regular basis has to be aware of the exposure time as we are only 9 degrees from the equator. All these elements contribute to a dehydration factor starting immediately. Face it folks. You ARE going to sweat in Costa Rica and that must be handled cautiously. You must hydrate on a regular basis in Costa Rica. What most people don’t know, and my first tip, is that the water in Costa Rica is very safe to drink. The only real issue with the water is that it is high in Calcium, of which most people are deficient. So, drink water and visit the ocean often. Swimming in the ocean can help hydrate your body through absorption and also hydrates your skin naturally. Not only will it help your skin but will exfoliate your feet while on the beach! Complete bonus. Embrace the abundant water in Costa Rica but limit your exposure to the sun until you have spent at least 6 months in Costa Rica. What is wonderful is that almost every beach has some type of natural shade areas and can be easily accessed. Let the wonders of nature draw you gently into life in Costa Rica but respect Mother Nature.
While environmental factors play a large part of adapting to life in Costa Rica, my second tip, and maybe the most important one, is the aspect of adjusting to the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. “Pura Vida” or Pure Life is not only a saying in Costa Rica but is truly their mantra. Coming from most of the world, life is hectic and we all take it in stride. Here, you must learn to slow down and move with the pace of life. Your first visit to the bank (banco) will be eye opening as you take a number from a machine and sit in chairs waiting for your number to be called. Depending on your business and how busy they are, it may be up to 2 hours to get done. And frighteningly for most people, you are FORBIDDEN to use your cell phone while in the bank. I know most of you might wither and die without it but take this time to talk to other people in the bank, practice your Spanish, or just get to know someone you didn’t know. Tico’s (Native Costa Rican’s) are very friendly because they do live in the happiest country in the world. Pura Vida means spending time with friends or family on the beach or home and not on our phones. So, learn what “Pura Vida” means not only to others but what it will mean to you. Make “Pura Vida” your mantra and slow down to the pace of life in Costa Rica and it will make your time there so much more enjoyable.
Moving to another country is a big step for anyone, but listening to your body and the environment will make for an easier adjustment to life in Costa Rica. Whether it is hydration, a swim in the ocean, a walk on the beach, a cold “chile guaro” or Imperial beer, or just a peaceful time alone finding your inner self. Listening to your environment and body will lead you eventually to what makes Costa Rica the happiest country in the world and that is simply put: “Pura Vida”
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All Rights Reserved.
Buyers come to Costa Rica with a dream in mind, finding their dream vacation home! At Krain, we help them find their dream home, we help them make on offer, and ultimately finalize a contract to purchase their home. What we want to help everyone understand today is the process that occurs between the accepting the offer and the final closing day!
After you find your dream home and the offer is accepted, there is a lengthy process that takes place and it happens in a pretty steady order that is NOTHING like a closing process in most parts of the World. I want to explain this process in a short but meaningful way. We will take this journey together step by step:
- Offer acceptance by the seller begins our journey.
- Selecting a lawyer is the second step and Krain works with several trusted lawyers that we have worked with for both buyer and seller.
- One of the first steps a lawyer in Costa Rica takes is whether a buyer or seller will be in country for the closing or not. If a buyer is not in country, then they will sign a Power of Attorney for their lawyer to sign for them under specific circumstances and with certain powers. This varies from most of the modern world as the buyer and seller need not be present for a closing on a home in Costa Rica.
- Escrow must be created (typically within 5 business days) to show good faith that the buyer is going to purchase the property. An escrow Company in Costa Rica will require a copy of the buyer’s passport, copy of their driver’s license or state ID, a copy of a Utility Bill proving their address at home, at least one year of tax returns, and most importantly “proof of funds” which is typically a bank statement showing the funds that will be used to purchase your dream home. Don’t worry the proof of funds can be gathered during the buying process and the bank statement sent just days prior to closing. The escrow process is completed with both buyer and seller signing an escrow agreement that outlines the payment splits that were agreed upon in the contract.
- In this step both lawyers will do what is called “due diligence” on a home and the property involved in the sale. During the due diligence period the lawyers ensure that there are no past due taxes owed, that ALL utilities are paid in full up to the closing date, the property is surveyed and that the property being purchased is legally registered in the Nacional Registro, and lastly the lawyers will follow the “chain of title” back as far as possible to ensure that the seller is legally authorized to sell the property. All this is done to protect the buyer and ensure they are legally purchasing the property.
- After due diligence is completed, the escrow funds deposited are no longer refundable to the buyer and we move into the final phases of purchase
- The buyer’s lawyer will now verify with the buyer whether they wish to “purchase” the corporation that the property is currently registered in or whether the buyers wish to form a new corporation and transfer the property into that new corporation. The difference is that a new corporation limits liability of any unknown legal problems with a corporation and also allows the buyers to name their new corporation and home whatever they please. With a new corporation comes a shiny new name of both corporation and home but also comes with a typically shiny price tag of about $1,000 U.S. so that is a decision the buyers should consider in their closing process.
- Once all the legal entities are satisfied and the due diligence period has expired and the corporation decision is made, all parties will receive a closing statement from the escrow company. This outlines the entire payment including escrow and final funds necessary to pay all closing costs by both parties. The closing statement will also outline all parties that receive commissions or payments to legal fees or sales agents. Every penny of a transaction is accounted for in the closing statement and both buyer and seller are required to sign the statement after all lawyers and interested parties approve the statement.
- The next to last step of the buying process is the wire transfer of remaining funds to the escrow account and this typically must be started “five” days prior to the closing date. This time frame allows plenty of time for the funds to typically arrive for closing.
10.Upon closing day, the interested party’s lawyers gather together with the paperwork and sign the required documents of which they provide to everyone. This process typically takes about 30 minutes and for the buyers it marks their last step in the buying process and their first day as official homeowners! However, there is a bit more for the lawyers and escrow company to do.
11.The last few layers of closing in Costa Rica involve the depositing of commissions and legal fees and the beginning of the process to file the paperwork with the Nacional Registro.
12.About 3 to 6 months after the “official closing” the lawyer presents the new homeowners (or their legal representative) with their corporation paperwork and “books” in their names. This is the day that most buyers truly get excited because they can see their names on the legal papers or registry in Costa Rica!
I really want buyers in Costa Rica to be comfortable with the buying process and I hope that each of you “loosely” utilize this guide to help with any questions that you have. While not every home buying experience follows the exact steps above, we, at Krain, do want you to know that we will be here every step of the process to represent your best interests and to answer any questions that you may have.
I recently had a blast filming our latest House Hunters International episode with the Kees in the bustling city of Liberia, Costa Rica. Liberia is the capital city of Guanacaste and is known for its colonial charm and abundant modern amenities, including public and private hospitals, lovely parks, public transportation, banks, and various restaurants and shopping outlets. Liberia is also just 10 minutes away from the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, making travel in and out of Costa Rica a breeze.
Be sure to tune into our show, which airs on Wednesday, August 10th at 10:30pm EST and will air again three hours later at 1:30am EST.
If you are interested in moving to Liberia, or the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica in general, please let me know how I can assist. I was happy to help the Kees in finding the perfect apartment for them, and will be thrilled to help you do the same!
Copyright © 2013-16 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.
Everyone views Costa Rica as a beautiful place to live but don’t necessarily equate the health benefits with the lifestyle here in Costa Rica. The amazing weather just accentuates the healthy aspects and can help you become medication free just like it has done for me.
When I moved to Costa Rica, I weighed 330 lbs.and was on medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, hypertension, and other issues. The lifestyle in Costa Rica lends itself to healthier eating and living simply by utilizing correct portion sizes and allowing you to get out to exercise more easily. Not to mention the low cost of fresh fruits and vegetables that are easily prepared and amazing.
Costa Rica living is such an unbelievable experience in itself for healthy living. We have a small group of four friends that go body surfing every morning and every afternoon for sunrise and sunset. It is inexpensive, exhilarating, and great exercise. Between the amazing surf, sunrises and sunsets, turtle hatchings, and good friends, it is incredibly easy to eat healthy and get some great exercise.
The lifestyle in Costa Rica naturally promotes healthy living and exercise. It is the one reason it is so easy to take weight off and decrease dependency on medications down to nothing. In six months, I have gone from several medications to zero medications and now have a blood pressure of 111/77. You can do it too by simply embracing the Pura Vida lifestyle here in Costa Rica. Your dreams bring you here; let Krain’s passion do the rest for you.
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.
Saturday Oct. 25th, 2014 - Moving to Costa Rica is a daunting adventure but once you are here you can become part of the community and help build strong relationships. One fantastic way I am building relationships and a strong community is by delving into the Animal Rescues and giving a helping hand.
I recently helped rescue a beautiful young dog that was covered in ticks, has tick fever, and an infection. This pretty lady is recovering nicely thanks to the efforts of my colleague, Maria Luisa, and Barbara Deppe from Barbara’s Animal Rescue Center (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barbaras-Animal-Rescue-Center/109868999075883) who graciously took in Libele and is nursing her back to health.
It truly takes a community to save lives. One of our developers recently discovered 7 newborn puppies who lost their Mother at birth. He brought these puppies to Barbara’s Animal Rescue Center where we are currently bottle feeding these babies. So many people have volunteered from our Facebook pages to help feed the babies and this is what truly separates the Krain Costa Rica Real Estate family from the rest of the realtors in Costa Rica. We are a part of the community and strive to make that community better. It just so happens that, in becoming part of that community, I have found something that truly makes me a better person and gives me the ability to make a difference.
If you wish to donate to Barbara’s Animal Rescue you can do so by paypal. Barbara’s paypal account is: firstname.lastname@example.org and every single penny counts when it comes to these wonderful animals because Barbara doesn’t just save dogs and cats but also rescues Pizote (pictured below with the dog), spotted skunks, and any other animal that needs a loving hand. I am truly blessed to be in wonderful Costa Rica and I plan to give back as much as I can to the country that is giving me so much of itself.
When looking at properties here in Costa Rica, many of my Buyers are surprised at the Homeowners Association or HOA expense associated with a community. This expense might be a new consideration, as individuals living in North America may own a ‘freestanding’ single family home or rent. This blog should serve to shed light on the HOA concept, especially as it applies in Costa Rica, and make you comfortable with the expense.
With many of our newer properties, a developer has added amenities and services to be shared by all residents; such as swimming pool, landscaping, perimeter fencing, elevators, etc. These become part of the HOA community, and the expense to maintain is shared by the owners. Additional shared expenses might include overall management or administration service for the community, security services, water, air conditioning, external building upkeep, insurance for the building/development, cleaning, and the like. A community may also be setting aside money for capital replacement or major projects, as a reserve fund. That’s a good thing! All of these shared expenses are controlled by the owners, budgeted and approved annually at a meeting of the HOA. Most often, the fees are assessed or charged monthly. We notice that for communities with only a few home or condos, the fee is typically higher due to the fact that the overall shared expense is divided by a fewer number of owners. In some circumstances, the maintenance expenses are subsidized by developer; as in a resort property.
When contracting for purchase, make sure your Realtor provides a provision in to get you financial information on the HOA including budget and reserves. You and your attorney might also get and review minutes for the past meetings. Be sure to learn what is included in your monthly expense. Weigh this expense against what it would cost if you had to cover and manager a service in full, for example if there was no community of owners. It can add up quickly, though you get to choose which services you want and value.
Regardless of expense level, recognize that the HOA payments will be part of the monthly overhead for your investment; whether you are using the property for yourself or renting it. Be sure you are comfortable with this payment. Be assured that by choosing a strong and healthy HOA, your investment will remain strong even in your absence.
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.
The Guanacaste region of Costa Rica is situated on the north Pacific Coast. The region exhibits significant diversity in its topography, climate, culture, and recreational activities. The area along the coast from Papagayo to Playa Junquillal is known as the “Gold Coast”. As the name suggests, this is the area that attracts and nurtures significant expatriates in Costa Rica; to its drier climate, the ocean and stunning beaches, access through Liberia International Airport, excellent healthcare and medical facilities, resorts and residential communities. As a support and resource to the families that have situated here, a healthy selection of private schools operate in the Gold Coast region. These typically position themselves around and near stable communities, to insure sufficient enrollments and financial success. Costa Ricans and expats send their children to these high quality private schools, with the intent on admission into recognized US and European Universities. Not only will your kids get a great education; it will be in a bilingual setting with students from different cultures and countries.
Listed below are the most established and recognized schools in our area, serving children of all age groups and needs. Please find links to each institution’s website as a best resource for further information.
- Costa Rica International Academy (formally Country Day School of Guanacaste): PreK – 12th grades. http://criacademy.com/ Located adjacent Reserva Conchal, just south of Brasilito.
- La Paz Community School: PreK – 12th grades. http://www.lapazschool.org/ Located just north of Brasilito, adjacent Mar Vista.
- Green Life Academy: PreK – 12th grades. http://greenlifeacademy.wordpress.com/ Located in Playa Coco.
- Lakeside International School: PreK – 12th grades. http://www.lakesideschoolcr.com/index.php/en/ Situated in Sardinal, on the road leading toward Playa Coco.
- Waldorf School: PreK – 5th grades. http://www.gws.ed.cr/ Situated inland a bit, near Canafistula.
- Del Mar Academy: PreK -8th grades. http://www.delmaracademy.com/index.html Located in Nosara, a growing expat community south of the formal “gold coast”.
- Academia Teocali: PreK – 11th grades. http://www.academiateocali.ed.cr/home Situated in Liberia.
This link offers a healthy background on (private) education in Costa Rica, as well as some resources for schools not in our Guanacaste region. While I’m not sure how current the information is, you’ll find it another good reference point. http://www.therealcostarica.com/health_education_costa_rica/private_schools_costa_rica.html
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.
My clients often suggest they’ll be renting a car to get around and tour the country, or upon arriving at the airport use the car as a ‘cheaper’ transportation option. Sometimes I have to just cringe. The driving experience here in Costa Rica is different than it is in North America and Europe. Best to understand a different strategy before getting behind the wheel. It's really not so bad if one is prepared!!
When renting a car, be sure you’ve confirmed a reservation; especially if made from a distance or over the internet. Do so one week and one day before arrival/pickup, even with the name brand rental companies. As long as you are driving is on principal roadways, 2wd should be adequate for your driving needs. Some car rentals are stick shift only. Are you comfortable with a clutch and shifting? Before leaving the rental lot, make sure the car’s air conditioning works well, there’s tread on the tyres, the windshield wipers function properly and efficiently without leaving streaks, you have a spare tyre with air and complete jack system, and all the lights work. Your car should also be equipped with an emergency warning triangle and jumper cables (make sure these have a thicker wire – the thin wired jumpers don’t work well). So now you are ready to leave the lot. Get yourself oriented and pointed in the right direction. As we were taught in driving school, check left rear – make sure your mirrors are all properly adjusted. And while sitting there, take a look at the speedometer; is it oriented to kph or mph. Roadways and directional signs are posted with speed limits in kph, and kilometers; which ultimately may or may not be useful information.
So now you are ready to pull out of the parking lot, right? Or have you already unbuckled your safety belt and turned the car back in… Driving strategies. Speed limits are typically not adhered to, especially on the principal highways. Go with the flow. You’ll find yourself sharing the road with many other vehicles and transportation modes: pedestrians, people on bicycles and scooters (sometimes a whole family on one bicycle), horseback riders, livestock, motorcycles, trucks, and cars that should have been flattened years ago. So all sizes and speeds. And the roads are typically narrow, with little or no shoulder. Pass all these people with sufficient clearance; they are not going to get out of your way. Become confident in your passing skills, and know how well your car accelerates. Passing is common and anticipated. Double yellow lines… a good suggestion and seldom regarded. Signaling is optional too. I do like the ‘curve ahead’ arrows when driving the hilly areas, a good guide to the roadway ahead. Finally, keep a $20 bill convenient and separate from your other currencies, in case you get stopped by traffic police. This might accomplish getting you back on your way.
Be sure you know where you are going by having and reading the quality detailed up-to-date map. Roadsigns are infrequent, directional arrows inconsistent, and even route markers (eg. I-95) almost non-existent. Best to know which towns are along the way to verify you are on the right course. Try to learn which (real estate) developments, national parks, and hotels are in the direction in which you are headed and destined; most often these are better signed than the destination towns themselves. The good news is there are only so many main routes between places, so stay on those main courses. If possible, have someone give you specific directions like “turn left after the cemetery”, or “make a right turn at the intersection with Tres Hermanos Restaurant and gas station”. It may also be tricky adapt to signs that guide you as kilometers ahead vs miles ahead; one measurement is definitely farther than the other if your driving mentality is not adjusted accordingly. In the cities, specific streets and addresses are not marked; even though your destination may provide you with an “address”. More often, a location will be in reference to a standard landmark: 50m north of the Church. Speaking of gas stations, there are not gas stations on every corner. Although things are improving, anticipate gas stations few and far between. Fill up when your fuel tank shows 1/3 tank or less. Just sayin….
As mentioned, roads are narrower and without shoulder in most cases. As often as possible, I prefer to drive near the center line if it exists. Even on main highways, you may encounter potholes so be ready. If you see the car ahead of you slowing or veering in one direction, there’s probably a good reason. It may be a very slow driver that needs to be passed. As one local passenger shared with me recently: "he drives like a turtle". Road surfaces can vary from new carpets of asphalt, to older stretches with ruts, to areas under re-construction with hardpacked loose gravel, to no surface at all. In some places that have never had asphalt, a coating of molasses is sometimes applied in dry season to keep the dust down – you’ll probably notice a faint smell.
Driving at night is a whole different beast! Many of the ‘markers’ that were visible during the day disappear in the absolute darkness. Reflectors on the road generally don’t exist except for the newest roadways, so slow down a bit. Drive in the center of the road on those 2-lane routes, except when there’s oncoming traffic. Remember all those ‘things’ you were sharing the road with during daylight hours? They are still there at night, and practically invisible. Many of the bikes, motorcycles, and even cars don’t have working lighting systems; and may surprise you at the last moment. Nothing changes in their attitude about occupying the same road after dark - it’s your job to miss hitting them.
So driving can be fun and an interesting experience. Costa Rica does adhere to the North American standard of driving on the right side of the road. Just buckle up and enjoy the ride, and be sure to re-calibrate driving skills when returning ‘home’. This article is not meant to scare you from driving, rather prepare you for a different reality. Be alert, be defensive in your skills, and anticipate a great way to discover Costa Rica.
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.
I am often told: “You are living THE life”; referring to our move to Costa Rica. Or maybe as a reaction to the joyful expression on my face. I find a similar happiness in the visitors I meet on the streets of Tamarindo; as they are relaxed and finding the physical environment so appealing – the weather, the tropical flora and fauna, the animal sounds, the sweeping sandy beach. I have to chuckle to myself. I am still working and have responsibilities to my family, just like most of these people do. I’ve just made a choice for change in my life, and had the courage to try a path different than what I’d known and found limiting. Why not? My wife and I are both healthy, relatively young, with the vigor and excitement for a new adventure, at a point of life where our children are out of the house and independent living in different cities in the USA. We had nothing to lose in trying something alternative. We could always go back if it didn’t work…nothing was really changing “at home”. And who knows what circumstances or roadblocks may present in coming years to prevent even the possibility of pursuing this different path, excuses we could use to fall back on - by sentiment or necessity. In retrospect, our move to Costa Rica has exceeded all expectations and proved to be one of the best things we’ve done individually and as a couple. Best of all, we won’t have that feeling of regret; could have/ should have.
Yes, things are different here. And that’s ok. There are challenges and situations in every corner of the world. In Costa Rica, some things are more expensive, like petrol and processed foods. Some things are difficult to find, or are challenging to source. The rhythm of life is slower, and from a comparative perspective one needs to be patient in many cases. Yet that comes naturally in this environment. With the slower pace comes a deeper appreciation for our environs and everything happening around us. We have time to recognize and socialize with people, even strangers on the street. It’s so easy to take time out for little things that are enriching. We find the Pura Vida lifestyle enables people to be more honest with themselves, and consequently with others. Topics that are clearly not ‘correct’ to discuss in other parts of the world are easily expressed in this environment, which clears the air for more wholesome and natural relationships. Priorities and values are quite different in this setting. We find that we are able to live much simpler, without all the “stuff” that had cluttered our lives earlier. By choice! People are unselfishly interested in our well-being, as we of theirs; and always willing to lend a hand or provide a lesson unconditionally. Enjoying the life together. It’s expressed on the smiles of faces, the laughter. People are happy and friendly. Isn’t that the way life should be?
We find the food and dining experiences much healthier than that which we had known. Many more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet. The meats, poultry, and fish fresher and with less known preservatives. Food preparation is simpler, and tastes delicious. The food of North America is still available to us, though generally priced high to guide us to make smarter local choices. We find that the portion sizes of what we eat more in line with what we should be eating.
What I miss:
- The longer periods of daylight during summer months. Being closer to the equator, the sun comes up and goes down around the same time year-round.
- Many of my friends. And they are always welcome to come visit us too. With technology, people are a simple phone call or video chat away.
- The ability to fully understand the language in which I’m immersed. That’s coming along, and it can be frustrating at times.
What I don’t miss:
- The insecurity that I might get assaulted or become a victim of crime. (I really didn’t go around worrying, though it sure is disturbing hearing the news from North America. I often wonder if the culture “back home” has become too complacent with daily reports of crimes, shootings, and mass murders). For the most part, weapons are not part of our vocabulary here.
- The Go-Go madness that we left, with expectations and agendas. The sense of not having “time” to associate with friends and people I meet.
- The constant din of freeways and traffic. For me, the biggest uncontrollable ‘noise’ is the barking howl of the monkeys, the loud hollers of tropical birds, thunder of a tropical rainstorm.
We are LIVING LIFE, and yes in tropical paradise! Why not? Gotta live somewhere! I realize this almost sounds too good to be true, and in many respects it is. Just one individual’s perspective. Every day is a new adventure.
Effective September 1st, 2014, KRAIN Costa Rica will be utilizing the Chicago MLS (MREDLLC) to market all of their exclusive Costa Rica listings
Costa Rica Real Estate Brokerage Utilizes Chicago MLS to Extend Its Global Marketing Reach.
Effective September 1st, 2014, KRAIN Costa Rica will be utilizing the Chicago MLS to market all of their exclusive Costa Rica listings. Peter Breitlander, owner of Krain Chicago and who has been a member of the Chicago Association of Realtors since 2002, is extremely excited about the new marketing potential of this platform. Mr. Breitlander reports, "This is yet another great marketing tool that we can offer to our home sellers in Costa Rica.” He further adds, "Krain Costa Rica offers to its clients the most expansive online marketing in Costa Rica. This is just another example of our marketing reach."
Only licensed Chicago Agents have access to the Chicago MLS platform. Mr. Breitlander believes that the fact that Costa Rica listings are now appearing on this platform is extremely beneficial for all Chicago agents who are looking to help their clients purchase a second home or vacation/income property out of the country. Mr. Breitlander anticipates that, by having offices in Chicago and Costa Rica, KRAIN will be utilized by many Chicago agents as an extension of their professional services to their clients. Timing for these Chicago agents couldn’t be better—for the first time since the financial crisis in 2008, the Costa Rica market is moving and increasing at a steady pace. Prices, which have been at an all-time low for well over a decade are now on the rise, as the demand for these types of properties has substantially increased.
Also, due diligence should be performed against the company to ensure that the company is passive (used only as a holding company for the property) and does not have any undisclosed contingencies (like the presence of debt, etc).
Owning Costa Rican property in a corporation is sometimes seen as beneficial because it may operate to separate potential personal liabilities, allow for easier transition to relatives in the event of death of the purchaser, and/or facilitate the closing procedure. Prior to 2013, the closing costs were considerably cheaper if the transaction was effectuated through a corporation using a Share Transfer Agreement. However, recent laws have closed this perceived loophole, and this benefit is not as advantages as it once was. KRAIN recommends that its clients consult with an attorney to determine whether owning property through a corporation is best suited for them. KRAIN has many legal contacts throughout the country and is happy to recommend qualified and reputable attorneys upon request.
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.
The quality of life in Costa Rica is excellent, and, in fact, the more one learns about the Central American country, the more appealing it becomes as a retirement destination. Consider these winning factors and you'll quickly see why so many expats choose retirement in Costa Rica:
It ranks #1 on the Happy Planet Index.
The Happy Planet Index measures "the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them." The index judges life expectancy, experienced well-being, and ecological footprint and ranks more than 150 countries. Costa Rica holds the honor of being ranked #1 thanks to its superior scores in all three categories.
The climate can't be beat.
Costa Rica has a generally mild climate that is consistently pleasant. There are no snow or ice storms to worry about, even at the highest elevations. Individual micro climates throughout the country ensure those who retire in Costa Rica can find the ideal temperature and humidity level for their tastes. In the Central Valley, for example, temperatures average around 72 to 78 degrees. Sun seekers can head to either the Pacific or Caribbean coast and enjoy warmer temperatures in the 80s all year-long. Retirees can choose nearly daily rainfall in the lush green tropical zone near the Osa Peninsula or opt for the dry Guanacaste region where rain showers are generally limited to June through November and are much more predictable.
Quality, affordable healthcare is widespread.
Costa Rica has a comprehensive healthcare system that provides care to residents throughout the whole country. Known as the "Caja," expats who have "pensionado" (retirement) status in Costa Rica are also eligible to join the system for a nominal fee. Those who seek healthcare and medical facilities comparable to those found in the U.S. are pleased to visit one of Costa Rica's three private hospital systems, CIMA, in Escazu, and Clinica Biblica and La Catolica, both in San Jose. These world-class medical facilities offer every department and type of service one could need, ranging from routine check-ups to CAT Scans to complex surgeries. Due to the lower cost of health care in Costa Rica, medical tourism is on the rise, and how now become the second largest industry in Costa Rica.
Its time zone is compatible with the United States.
The time zone in Costa Rica is Central Standard Time, or six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Savings Time, setting the country just one or two hours behind Eastern Standard Time all year long. Because its time is always comparable to any of the three zones within the U.S., expats who reside there don't have to worry about when to call family and friends in the States. Travel is easier, too, since you don't need to worry about jet lag.
It is a short flight away from the United States.
Though it may feel like you're far, far away from life in the U.S., the reality is that you're just a few hours away by plane when you're in Costa Rica. Flights are not only easy to find, but they're also very affordable. Roundtrip tickets can routinely be found between $500 and $800–sometimes even less. Not only do retirees have the option of easily and affordably traveling to the U.S., but friends and family will want to reciprocate.
Natural beauty surrounds you, no matter where you settle down.
Costa Rica's natural beauty cannot be denied. From beaches to mountains to rain forest, this Central American country has it all. Even city dwellers can drive just 20 minutes out of town and arrive at stunning waterfalls or a mountaintop town with incredible views. Spotting wildlife is a party of daily life in Costa Rica. From a pack of coatimundi along the side of the road to a pair of scarlet macaws snacking in a beach almond tree, you don't have to look hard to see why people around the world are attracted to Costa Rica.
You don't need to speak Spanish.
English-only speakers appreciate how prevalent the language is in Costa Rica, especially in San Jose and many other highly desirable locations. Thanks to the many thriving expat communities throughout the country, you won't have any trouble making new friends without worrying about a language barrier. Expats can feel comfortable ordering at restaurants, visiting the doctor, and living their day-to-day life without speaking a word of Spanish if they so choose. Not to worry if you do feel like practicing your Spanish though–there's no shortage of opportunities to do so.
Finally, you can do it all in Costa Rica. Whether you dream of a peaceful retirement spent relaxing on the beach or an adventurous life full of exploration and activity, you can choose nearly anything in Costa Rica. From beachfront luxury homes to remote jungle retreats to urban residences in the heart of the action, you're sure to find your dream property in Costa Rica. Don't let its small size fool you–Costa Rica offers you everything you could ask for.
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.
That’s right, I’m in love with Costa Rica’s healthcare system. And I fell in love with it even more when I received my bill. I happen to be in a unique position to compare Costa Rica’s healthcare system with that of the United States since I birthed two babies, necessitating two c-sections, in two different countries, within 16 months of each other. (Yes, I was busy! When you wait until later in life to have children, you have to get on with the program!)
In the summer of 2012, we welcomed our first child. He was born in the United States at Northwestern’s prestigious Prentice Hospital in Chicago, one of the top hospitals in the country. He was a breech baby, and so he had to be welcomed into this world via a scheduled c-section.
Fifteen months later, my family and I were moving to Costa Rica, and I was expecting our second child. As it turns out, our second child (our daughter) was also breech, necessitating a second scheduled c-section.
I must admit, I was initially nervous about having our child in Costa Rica. Before the move, I tried to calm my fears by conducting relentless research. I probably went a little overboard in the process. I researched the quality of health care in Costa Rica, spent countless hours determining whether my U.S. insurance would cover the procedure, personally attended all private hospitals in the Central Valley, and even flew down to Costa Rica to interview doctors.
Here is what I found.
Costa Rica’s second largest industry is medical tourism. Who knew? People come from all over the world for Costa Rica’s affordable quality health care. Thus, for any procedures not otherwise covered by insurance (including pre-existing conditions), dental care, and elective surgery, Costa Rica is the place to be.
Costa Rica’s Central Valley has several excellent private hospitals from which to choose. We ended up choosing the world renown CIMA Hospital located in the upscale San Jose suburb of Escazu. Still, we had no shortage of other, quality options, including Hospital Clinica Biblica and Hospital Clinica La Catolica. All of these hospitals are top notch and have JCI accreditation.
Costa Rica has a wonderful selection of qualified doctors from all over the world. After my round of interviews, we ended up choosing Dr. Daniel Nisman, who was by all accounts wonderful. His knowledge of obstetrics was outshined only by his excellent demeanor. He was always available, answered thoughtfully all of our questions, and graciously and safely brought our daughter into this world. Thank you, Dr. Nisman!
Many procedures in Costa Rica’s private hospitals are covered by insurance. I’m happy to report that my hospital, CIMA Hospital, was considered an “in-network” hospital for purposes of my insurance. And so I was covered—for 90% of the costs—by my United States insurer.
Costa Rica puts the “affordable” in affordable quality health care. Even though I was covered by my insurance, I received the total bills, pre-insurance payments, for the births of each of my children. My total bill for a c-section in the United States at Northwestern’s Prentice Hospital, including doctor and hospital care, was $26,000.00. My total bill for the exact same procedure in Costa Rica at CIMA Hospital, including doctor and hospital care, was $6,000.00. To boot, I am pleased to report that I received the same quality treatment from my doctors and nurses at CIMA Hospital as I did from those at Northwestern.
Of course, I was covered by insurance for both procedures for the majority of the costs. Still, my insurance covered only 90% of each of my procedures. Thus, while I paid $2,600 in out-of-pocket expenses for the birth of my son in the United States, I paid only $600 in out-of-pocket expenses for the birth of my daughter in Costa Rica.
How do I love thee, Costa Rica? Let me count the ways!
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.
Visit the Country
The first step to buying property in Costa Rica is to visit Costa Rica! While not legally necessary, KRAIN highly recommends that each of its clients visit the country before buying property here. KRAIN is happy to arrange travel plans to Costa Rica and to develop itineraries to assist its clients in determining which part of Costa Rica is best suited for them. View KRAIN’s You Fly, We Buy Program. We are excited for you to see the beauty and lifestyle that Costa Rica has to offer.
Identify the Property
The next step in the purchase of a property is for the potential buyer to identify the property that he or she wants. KRAIN assists the buyer in this process by identifying and reviewing all of the available property in the area, narrowing the lists of available properties to those that best meet the potential buyer’s needs, and advising the client on the true market value of such properties based on comparable sales data in the area.
In Costa Rica, and unlike other countries, there is no unified Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”) that all brokerages subscribe to determine the fair market value of a property. Rather, in Costa Rica there are two, independent MLS service companies, and they do not share information. In advising their clients on how much to pay for a property, most Costa Rica real estate brokerages use only one of the two MLS service companies (and some brokerages utilize neither, due to lack of funds to pay for these services). KRAIN is one of the only brokerages that utilizes both MLS systems currently in place in Costa Rica. KRAIN’s longstanding and strong relationship with both MLS service companies ensures that KRAIN’s clients (1) have all of the data available regarding the true market value of a property and (2) can use such data to their advantage.
KRAIN accompanies the buyer to each property showing in order to answer all questions and to advise—utilizing KRAIN’s combined 25 years of experience in the industry—on the benefits and pitfalls of the potential purchase. In the case of buying a lot with no existing home, KRAIN advises its clients on exactly how much of the land can be used for building, any setbacks that need to be adhered to, and whether any encumbrances exist to prohibit or deter building. Although typically conducted later within the due diligence period, KRAIN can arrange to obtain the property’s survey plan (also known as the “Plano Catastro”), the Use of Land Certificate (also known as a “Uso de Suelo”), and a property title check from the National Registry before an offer is even submitted.
Submit an Offer
Once we have found that perfect property, the next step is to submit an offer, in the form of a “Letter of Intent” (also known as a “Purchase Proposal” or “Option to Purchase”). The Letter of Intent includes the basic terms of the offer, including the property description, the general parameters of the purchase (the purchase price, the payment structure, and the amounts to be held in escrow), and a closing date. It is common for the buyer and seller to negotiate upon the price of the offer. Once the general terms of the offer have been orally accepted, the Letter of Intent is signed by both parties. This Letter of Intent will provide the attorneys with the general outline to draft a formal Sale and Purchase Agreement.
Execute the Sale and Purchase Agreement
Once the Letter of Intent has been signed by both parties, KRAIN submits the Letter of Intent to the chosen attorney, so that the attorney may draft a Sale and Purchase Agreement (“SPA”).
Although the parties can always agree otherwise, in a typical purchase where the buyer is paying cash for a property, the buyer customarily appoints his or her own attorney to draft the SPA and other closing documents. KRAIN has many legal contacts throughout the country and is happy to recommend qualified and reputable attorneys upon request. Typically, the cost of the attorney is split 50/50 by the buyer and seller.
Exceptions to the above rules exists where there is seller financing. For example, when a large part of the purchase price is being financed by the seller and a mortgage is required to guarantee payment, the seller may request that this or her attorney draft required documentation and/or that the buyer bear the cost for drafting such documents. If the ratio of the transaction is 50% cash and 50% seller-financed, it is common for the seller’s attorney and buyer’s attorney to jointly draft the required documentation, in what is known as “co-notariado.” Read more about financing options.
The attorney will draft the formal Sales and Purchase Agreement (an “SPA”), which details the property and legally secures the property at the agreed-upon price, terms, and conditions. Once the parties execute the SPA, the escrow is ready to be deposited and the due diligence period begins.
Set Up Amounts in Escrow
After the SPA is signed by both parties, the buyer needs to deposit the agreed-upon sum in escrow. KRAIN works with several reputable escrow companies throughout the country and is happy to refer these companies upon request. To establish an escrow account, the buyer will need a valid passport, a copy of last year’s tax returns, and a copy of the executed Sale and Purchase Agreement. The buyer can also expect to fill out various “Know Your Client” forms required by the banks. The escrow company acts as a neutral third party to hold the amounts in escrow (as well as any amounts deposited for the upcoming close of the property), until the contracts are finalized and signed by both parties.
Once the SPA is executed, the Due Diligence Period begins. Within this time frame, the buyer, through its attorney and agents, will need to conduct all necessary or desired inspections of the property, including a home inspection, soil tests, topographical studies, structural studies and water studies. KRAIN has a trusted group of field professionals to handle these inspections if needed.
Also during this period, the attorney must conduct a title search to ensure that the property has a clear title. The attorney will, among other things, search Costa Rica’s public National Registry, or “Registro Nacional.” By law, all documents relating to an interest in or title to real property must be registered in the property section of Costa Rica’s National Registry. The Registro Nacional contains the specific details of the property, including the title registration number (or folio real), name of the title holder, boundary lines, liens, mortgages, tax appraisals, recorded easements, and any other recorded documents that would affect title. The attorney will also conduct an independent title search for further assurance of the property’s clear title.
The attorney will obtain an updated survey plan and a Use of Land Certificate (or Uso de Suelo). Any previously unknown building requirements, setbacks, encumbrances, liens, etc., must be discovered by the attorney and addressed by the parties.
If both parties wish to move forward at the end of the due diligence period, the closing is scheduled.
Attend the Closing
Typically, both the seller and buyer, along with their respective agents and attorneys, will personally appear at the closing. While a personal appearance is not legally necessary—so long as a proper power of attorney is executed—KRAIN recommends it clients personally appear at the closing. At the closing, the attorney will bring a recently-drafted transfer deed (or Escritura), which is necessary to transfer Costa Rican property from the seller to the buyer. This deed must be executed on front of a Notary Public. (In Costa Rica, the real estate attorneys are also notaries, so the attorneys’ presence fulfill this requirement.) If not a full cash purchase, a mortgage will also need to be executed. (In this situation, the transfer deed and mortgage are often drafted together as a single document.)
It is typical for the buyer and the seller to share equally in the closing costs, although the parties can agree that all closing costs be financed by one particular party. These costs include government-imposed transfer taxes and fees, notary fees and registration of mortgage costs, if applicable. Learn more about Closing Costs.
Sometimes the property being purchased is held by a corporation, rather than by an individual. In this case, a Share Transfer Agreement is executed in lieu of a transfer deed. Read more about buying property held in a corporation.
Register the Transfer Deed
After the closing, the attorney will need to engage in a two-step process to notify the government and the public that the buyer is the new owner of the property. First, the attorney must present (called “anotar”) the transfer deed to the Property Section of the Registro Nacional. At this stage, any remaining fees must be paid and encumbrances lifted. One the transfer deed has been accepted by the Registro Nacional, it will be returned to the attorney with all of the proper documentary stamps and seals affixed to it. The attorney must then register the transfer deed (called “inscriber”) with the Registro Nacional. Registration protects the buyer’s right to the property against third parties, and so it is important to follow up with the attorneys to ensure that this process is completed and that the property is registered under the buyer’s name. The time frame for registration is approximately 45 to 60 days after presentment.
Register with the Local Municipality
The final step in purchasing a property is to register the newly-acquired property with the local municipality for tax purposes. This can be done easily by the buyer or the buyer’s attorney. The buyer usually needs to present the closing documents, bring his or her passport, and fill out a form to register the property.
Congratulations, you are now an owner of your Costa Rican dream property!
Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.