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FAQ's

 

1. Where is Costa Rica located?
2. How large is Costa Rica?
3. What is Costa Rica’s population?
4. What is the official language in Costa Rica?
5. What is the official currency in Costa Rica?
6. What type of government does Costa Rica have?
7. How is the education level in Costa Rica?
8. Where can my children go to school?

9. Are there any health issues in Costa Rica?
10. What is the climate like in Costa Rica?
11. What is the cost of living in Costa Rica?
12. How are the banks & banking services in Costa Rica?
13. Where should I live in Costa Rica?
14. Can I have a business in Costa Rica?

   
 

1. Where is Costa Rica located?

 

Central American between Nicaragua and Panama (between 8 and 11 degrees north of the equator.

   
 

2. How large is Costa Rica?

 

Has an area of 50,895 square kilometers (about the size of West Virgina).

   
 

3. What is Costa Rica’s population?

 

Three million

   
 

4. What is the official language in Costa Rica?

 

Spanish

   
 

5. What is the official currency in Costa Rica?

 

Colones (Floats, currently $1 US = about 520) in notes of 10,000, 5,000, and 1000

   
 

6. What type of government does Costa Rica have?

 

Costa Rica is a democratic republic. Costa Rica has no army due to its peaceful history. Under the 1949 constitution, all citizens are guaranteed equality before the law, the right to own property, the right of petititon and assembly, freedom of speech and the right of habeas corpus. National elections are held every four years.

   
 

7. How is the education level in Costa Rica?

 

Costa Rica has achieved the highest literacy rate in Central America. Its lieteracy rate rivals that of many larger and more industrialized nations. Since the 1970’s Costa Rica has consistently invested 28% of the national budget in education –something which would not have been possible while maintaining armed forces.

 

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8. Where can my children go to school?

 

Private Schools are the best option for foreigners looking to educate their children in Costa Rica. The most well-known schools are Country Day School, International American School, and the Lincoln School.

 

Universities are different in Costa Rica in that the public universities offer a higher quality education than the private universities. The universities that are the most reputable are University of Costa Rica and Universidad Nacional.

   
 

9. Are there any health issues in Costa Rica?

 

You are unlikely to encounter any serious diseases in Costa Rica. Sanitary standards are high and the health system is excellent. No vaccinations are required to enter Costa Rica as epidemic diseases have been all but eradicated throughout the country.

   
 

10. What is the climate like in Costa Rica?

 

Costa Rica is a tropical country which contains several distinct climatic zones. There is no winter or summer as such and most regions have a rainy season from May to November and a dry season from December to April. Annual rainfall averages 100 inches nationwide with some mountainous regions getting as much as 25 feet on exposed eastern slopes. Temperature is more a matter of elevation than location with a mean of around 72 degrees in the Central Valley, 82 degrees on the Atlantic coast and 89 degrees on the Pacific coast.

 

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11. What is the cost of living in Costa Rica?

 

Utilities: Water, power and telephone are still very cheap in Costa Rica. For a family of 4, the monthly bills will normally be:

  • Water: $20 per month
  • Electricity: $ 25 (without air conditioning, heating pool
  • Internet: $ 15 RACSA (state ISP) Unlimited home user plan
  • Internet: $30 Amnet Cable Modem
  • Home Phone: $15 (limited local calling) depends on usage
  • Cell Phone: $15 (limited local calling) depends on usage

 

Groceries : The rule of thumb for groceries is that your bill will be about 2/3 of what it is in the U.S. A lot depends on what products you buy. Some products have price controls under what is called the "basic food basket". Products imported from Latin America under free trade agreements, or products grown locally or considered local cuisine (rice and beans) will have a lower price than imported "luxury" items.

 

Eating Out : Blue Plate Special Downtown - $2.50 ("casado" at a Tico diner, includes juice drink) Beer at local bar- $1.10, Super Deluxe Cheeseburger at Gringo hangout in Jacó - $6, Fine Dining: dinner for 2 - $80

 

Automotive : In general, parts are more expensive here and sometimes difficult to find. On the other hand, labor is cheaper. So a trip to the mechanic here, might cost about the same as what you'd pay in the U.S. Cars are still seen as a luxury article; therefore they carry a high import tax. Generally it’s not worth it to bring your car, since you’d still have to pay the high taxes when you get it through customs. Sell your car at home and buy another one here, it saves a lot of time, effort and money. The SUV type car is a very handy car here, though roads are in much better shape than they used to be, many people love to take the car off road during the weekends.

 

Around the House : One of the great things about living in Costa Rica is that you can afford to have a maid and/or a gardener for very little money. By law, you must pay your maid $140 per month, plus food and lodging. In return she must only work 12 hours per day (up to 16 hours if you pay overtime). You should also enroll her in the Costa Rica Social Security system, so you would deduct 9% of her salary for this tax, but you must also pay 11% to the "Caja".

 

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12. How are the banks & banking services in Costa Rica?

 

The banking system is quite different here than what you are used to. Banks in Costa Rica are not as service minded as the banks back home. If you want to open an account on your first trip, please ask all the banks you have an account with to write you a recommendation letter. The more the merrier. Ask your realtor or your attorney to help you open a bank account.

 

If you are looking for a mortgage, again don't expect the same services you are used to. Most banks will only supply you with a mortgage if you have a residency or a local income. Mortgage brokers do not exist in Costa Rica and banks are not used to realtors get involved in their business. Scotia Bank & Banex recently started a program for mortgages to foreigners, ask your Heritage Estates Realtor to inform you about it. Mortgage rates change from bank to bank, but generally is around 9% plus a one time charge (all fees) of 2 - 3%. I've seen some banks lately lending as low as 7%, but that's ever changing.

   
 

13. Where should I live in Costa Rica?

 

Since Costa Rica has so many different micro climates within its 7 provinces a lot depends upon where you are coming from; when you come from a cold climate, you like warm weather and when you come from the hot, you like the cool weather. Below, I will describe a little of each area.

 

San José

 

The west side of San José is where most ex-pats look for since it is the most well known area. That’s mainly because the climate is somewhat warmer than the east side and because the ex-pat community there is so large, there are more available services (i.e shopping malls, hospitals, private schools) than in most other areas and people like to stick together. The most popular areas are Escazu, Santa Ana, Ciudad Colon, and San Antonio de Belen.

 

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Jacó Beach and Quepos, Puntarenas

 

Jacó Beach and Quepos is the coastal area closest to the Central valley (San Jose) and offers a lot to anyone who loves nature. Growing very fast because the new freeway is going to be built in a very short time, mainly the Jacó area offers anything you need, including shopping and banking. Jacó offers mountain properties, beach front properties and new resort communities with great infrastructure. Quepos and Manuel Antonio is a touristier destination and offers many resort condo residential possibilities. The Jacó and Quepos area is much warmer and more humid than the Central Valley.

Dominical and the South Pacific

 

The Southern Pacific region is dominated by the magnificent Osa Peninsula, which includes the Corcovado National Park--a 100,000-acre sanctuary of biological diversity and endangered wildlife. The rugged peninsula also boasts the surf beaches of Pavones and Zancudo, the duty-free port of Golfito, and Drake's Bay named after Sir Francis Drake and his travels in 1579.

 

The main town as you descend onto this South Pacific Coast is Dominical – a rustic yet well organised little beach town with everything you need. It is a mere 40 minutes from the main town of San Isidro ( inland ) and about 2 hours south of Quepos – the main fishing town along this coast.

 

Down the coast from Dominical untouched beaches and rainforests adorn the coastline along with quaint little villages such as Uvita, Ojochal and Pinilla. This area is still truly tropical and provides the true Costa Rican experience and as renewed infrastructure and developments arrive to the region prices of real estate continue to rise.

 

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Guanacaste and Its Beaches

 

Guanacaste is divided in many different areas; we have partners in some of them and work together with professional realtors in others. Guanacaste is much warmer and dryer and therefore many people who like the beach go there. The airport in Liberia is getting more and more direct charters in from all over the world and that is opening up this beautiful province of Costa Rica. Due to large commercial investment like hotel chains such as JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton in Guanacaste, investment opportunities are many.

 

The main areas are: Tamarindo,Samara and Nosara, Playa Grande, Playa Conchal, Playa Flamingo, Playas del Coco, and Playa Panama.

   
 

14. Can I have a business in Costa Rica?

 

Most newcomers, retirees and business people, are totally lost when they arrive and have no idea where to start when setting up a new business in Costa Rica. Starting up a new business in Costa Rica means researching commercial licensing, accounting, mortgages, leases, investment opportunities, asset protection and others. This can be a costly affair and can take a long time before you really find out all you need to know.

 

To give you, the newcomer, such a complete package and in such manner smooth the way for you so you can dedicate your time to what you have to do: business, we have formed a strategic alliance with one of the most seasoned law firms in Costa Rica: Facio & Canas Abogados . With full independence of mind, this company has agreed to assist our clients at preferred rates. They have a long track record of serving International companies to get settled offering a variety of services such as: forming a corporation, mortgage negotiation, offshore asset protection, title search, and special escrow services, immigration services, among others.

   
 

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