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Expatriate Kids in Costa Rica Have Plenty of Education Options

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Moving to Costa Rica could be the most positive thing you do for your kids and their education.

Access to education is a very important deciding factor for families looking to move to Costa Rica. It ranks right up there with medical care, cost of living, and income generation. HRG Properties & Rentals not only lists wonderful properties in Costa Rica, but the majority of the real estate in their listings is located in an area where you can find good educational options for your kids too.

Many people move to Costa Rica for the unique advantages it offers. Simplicity, nature, and a multi-cultural advantage are all things that make life in Costa Rica shine.

However, many parents are concerned about educating their children, once happy settled in the rainforest. Not to worry: Costa Rica has a lot to offer on the education front.

There are many great private schools accredited by both the Costa Rican Ministry of Education and the United States here in Costa Rica.

In many of the private schools, classes are taught in both English and Spanish. Some schools, in the Central Valley, offer classes in other languages too. Placing your child in a bi-lingual private school can help ease the transition from a school in the United States or Canada to Costa Rica.

Public schools in Costa Rica, while excellent, are often crowded, with many students to one teacher. Many expatriates moving to Costa Rica send their kids to private schools for this reason. There are a few good schools located in the Central Pacific area.

Centro Educativo Inmaculada Escuela de Jaco

 

This k-10 school is located in Jaco, just down the street from Los Sueños Resort & Marina in Playa Herradura. Escuela Immaculada is a private bilingual Catholic school with around 100 students, about a fourth of which are North American or European.

 

 

Escuela Las Nubes

 

Las Nubes School is a bilingual educational institution founded in the year 2000, located in the area of Jaco, on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, that offers an alternative academic option and where student development is promoted, yielding a high-level academic formation, motivating the development of life skills and generating attitudes of environmental responsibility, with the goal of shaping people with adequate skills, values and attitudes to reach an optimum role in society.

 

 

Ficus Tree School

 

Ficus Tree is a Montessori-enriched school which combines the Montessori educational approach with other philosophies and practices. Their preschool program now offers a fully Montessori 1-3, and 3-6, program and their elementary program is continuously being enriched with the Montessori philosophy and its use of materials.

 

 

Another great option for expatriate kids is homeschooling. Unlike the old days where you had to wait for the school to send you a big box full of books and the year’s curriculum, most home schooling programs are web-based now. There are dozens to choose from, both with secular programs and religious programs; many with one on one teacher to student ratios.

Worried about your children’s social life and skills? There are plenty of local activities for kids to get involved in, ranging from football (soccer), to karate classes or surf lessons, beach cleanups, and animal rescue programs.

HRG Properties & Rentals has a huge portfolio of listings, ranging from spacious condos to sprawling villas, raw land, and development properties. Costa Rica properties are surrounded by amazing views of the rainforest, and/ or ocean, as well as an abundance of wildlife and nature.

A move to Costa Rica could be the most positive decision you ever make for your family. Surrounded by nature and immersed in an international culture, your kids will become well rounded individuals as a result of being raised in Costa Rica.

 

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Buying a home in Costa Rica: a World Leader in Green Energy

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Costa Rica’s reputation for renewable energy is a big draw for those seeking to buy property in the country.

As topics of global warming, sustainability, and energy conservation trend as important to the general population, more people have become interested in buying property and living in Costa Rica. Perhaps, in part, because of Costa Rica’s widely known stance on conservation, and its aim toward renewable energy. Renewable energy in Costa Rica supplied about 98,1% of the energy output for the entire nation in 2016.  As a country, Costa Rica has a geographic advantage over others in that its high concentration per capita of rivers, dams, and volcanoes allow for a high renewable energy output. “For 2017, we expect renewable electricity generation to remain stable,” ICE’s executive president, Carlos Manuel Obregón, said recently. “We have four new wind plants and expect favorable rain conditions in the basins that feed our plants.” Though Costa Rica has made major investments in wind and geothermal plants in the last 25 years – with its percentage of non-hydro renewables well surpassing the world average – the country still routinely produces more than 70% of its electricity each year using dams. Solar energy generation – on a privatized level- has picked up in Costa Rica, as well. There are a number of new companies in the country that are providing residential, as well as business, solar energy solutions. Companies like Green Energy, Poderco, and Costa Rica Solar Solutions are making great strides in helping families and business save on their fuel energy consumption. Did you know? The total amount of fossil fuels used by humans since the beginning of civilization is equivalent to less than 30 days of sunshine! Finally, a number of architectural engineers in Costa Rica are turning their eye toward a future of renewable energy and conservation, and more and more homes are being developed here with that end in mind. For example, Casa Vista Paraiso, one of HRG’s newest and most luxurious home listings, is situated within Eco Golf Estates, inside Los Sueños Resort & Marina. Casa Vista Paraiso is a sprawling 8,950 square foot retreat, custom designed with only the most discerning tastes in mind. More importantly, however, this energy efficient home is easily managed via wireless control through any smart device, regardless of whether homeowners are in residence or half way around the world. From its cut-stone façade to the lush backdrop of rich Costa Rican rainforest, this custom U.S. quality energy star home was designed to save energy, and deliver ultimate comfort with minimal maintenance required. If you’re looking to build or buy property in Costa Rica, one of the big benefits you’ll be gaining is reducing your carbon footprint. Living in paradise, reducing your impact on the planet, and experiencing a new culture and a “pura vida” lifestyle; what more can a homeowner ask for?

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The Ultimate Wedding Gift: A Vacation Property at Los Sueños Resort

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Give the wedding gift that keeps on giving; present them with Los Sueños Resort real estate.

Real estate is one of the most valuable wedding gifts a couple can receive, and a luxury vacation property in Los Sueños Resort, Costa Rica is one of the dreamiest wedding presents imaginable.

With everything from one, two and three bedroom condominiums featuring forest or ocean views, to sprawling luxe villas that boast private pools, guest houses and more, HRG Properties & Rentals represents one of the most prestigious real estate portfolios in all of Costa Rica.

Conveniently located close to the United States, with direct flights from many major cities, a real estate property in Los Sueños, Herradura, Costa Rica can be one of the best investments a couple can have for the well-being of their future. Sound investments aside, owning a vacation property in Los Sueños will go a long way toward creating a lifetime of priceless memories.

Whether you’re the bridal couple’s parents, or a doting relative looking to indulge the happy couple, or a soon to be spouse who wants to surprise him or her with something spectacular, a property in Los Sueños is the perfect answer.

Here are some of HRGs most prized properties for sale at Los Sueños Resort:

Casa Vista Paraiso

Luxury knows no bounds when it comes to Casa Vista Paraiso; secluded, and yet close enough for convenience to all resort amenities, this custom smart home was designed with outdoor living, family fun, and entertainment in mind. From its cut-stone façade to the lush backdrop of rich Costa Rican rainforest, this custom U.S. quality energy star home was designed to deliver ultimate comfort with minimal maintenance required; it is without doubt, unparalleled to any other in Costa Rica.

Terrazas 3C

Featuring gorgeous ocean and marina views, this perfectly situated ground-floor condominium is impeccably furnished and perfectly located in one of the most beautiful communities of Los Sueños Resort. Offering three bedrooms and three and a half baths of spacious living, this lovely condo features plenty of outdoor living space and is situated right next to the crashing waterfalls of the building’s community infinity pool.

Villa Tranquila

Located in the Vista Del Sol community, Villa Tranquila is the newest, and finest, luxury property for sale in Los Sueños Resort.

Claiming unmatched, panoramic ocean, resort, and sunset views, this 5300-square foot, 4-bedroom, 4.5 bath private retreat is a great investment, especially given its excellent vacation rental background; and, rental pool notwithstanding, the home has retained its high standard of impeccability and maintenance.

Beautiful furnishings and detailed design enhance the value of this villa, making it a place where family and friends want to be.  Designed for tropical living, every window, French door, and terrace of the villa enjoys a breathtaking vista of the surrounding ocean and rainforest. With outdoor entertainment a core consideration, the villa features a semi-private infinity pool and Jacuzzi, grilling area, and spacious patio with patio dining furniture, all making this the perfect place for any midsize group to relish the Los Sueños experience.

Bay Residence 6C

Just inside the main gates of Los Sueños Resort & Marina, the Del Mar Community is home to the Bay Residence Condominiums, which are uniquely positioned on Herradura Bay.

This exceptional condo is a lovely ocean front, 2 floor unit that is open to gorgeous views. The home features 3 spacious bedrooms, 2 baths, an open-concept chef’s kitchen, vibrant living and dining areas, and an expansive, covered, wraparound terrace which is perfect for entertaining, dining, relaxing, and sunset gazing.

 

Skip the crystal decanter and give them something to remember; gift the gift of real estate in Los Sueños Resort, Costa Rica.

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Big Companies Choose Costa Rica, and Why You Should Too

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Choose Costa Rica for your next business venture; you’ll be glad you did

More and more people are choosing to buy property, invest, open a business, and live in Costa Rica. The reasons are endless, but just to name a few: Costa Rica is known for its business-friendly investment regulations, abundant nature, beauty and wildlife, tourism industry, conservation and sustainability, a prospering economy, its conveniently close proximity to the States and Canada, and a highly educated, and computer literate, work force.

Many countries restrict foreign business investment as a way of protecting their national business and industry. Special tax breaks are given to local commerce and roadblocks are thrown in the way of foreign investors. Costa Rica, however, takes a positive attitude toward foreign investment. Outside money is encouraged as a way to spur development.

Nonetheless, labor laws and wage minimums are strictly enforced, giving the average Costa Rican employee enough income so that the local economy can flourish.

The end result is that Costa Rica is one of the most business friendly countries in Latin America. Foreign investment and foreign entrepreneurs are welcome.

One obvious result has been the relocation of several high-tech corporations to take advantage of Costa Rica’s educated and computer literate work force. This business-friendly climate has earned Costa Rica the reputation as Central America’s “Silicone Valley.”

Among big businesses that have chosen to set up shop here are the following (to name just a few):

 

  • Gray Line
  • Hewlett- Packard
  • Amazon
  • IBM
  • Intel Corporation
  • SC Johnson
  • Poker Stars
  • Microsoft
  • Nextel/Sprint
  • FedEx
  • Bank of America
  • Sykes
  • Uber
  • Procter and Gamble
  • Experian Marketing Services

 

Any investment that promotes tourism, creates jobs, and does not harm the environment is considered welcome.

To attract desirable businesses, Costa Rica offers generous incentives and tax breaks. Depending on the enterprise, there can be a twelve-year exemption from income taxes as well as waivers on import duties. When ecology is concerned, particularly projects involving reforestation, tax exemptions can be forever.

When it comes to choosing a country to retirement or just your next chapter in life, you can’t go wrong with Costa Rica. To learn more about the ins and outs of opening a company in this beautiful country, you can visit The World Bank’s “Doing Business” page on opening a company in Costa Rica.

To learn more about buying property in Costa Rica, you can reach out to our friendly real estate team here at HRG Properties and Rentals.

For more information on real estate investment, land or hotel properties please visit our Costa Rica Land & Hotel Advisors site. www.costaricadevelopmentproperty.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Expat Living: Best Tools, Tips, and Tricks for Learning Spanish

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You can learn Spanish; or at least get by for living in Costa Rica

While it’s true that you don’t have to speak Spanish to live in Costa Rica, you’ll be better off if you can speak and read Spanish when conducting your business affairs or just managing your daily life. Having some Spanish in your repertoire may not equip you to conduct intricate legal transactions, but it will help you follow the process and know when to ask questions. Besides all that, it’s a great way to discover and appreciate Tico culture. In addition to the traditional classroom experience, there are other options available: language software programs and online classes, as well as the usual tapes and workbooks. Regardless of how you choose to learn Spanish, what you want to learn is Latin American Spanish, not Castellan. Dialects vary from country to country and region to region, but in Central and South America, no one speaks the Spanish of Spain. If you have time before you move to Costa Rica, you may want to consider signing up for a conversational Spanish class at your local community college. The pace is slow and steady but the cost is relatively cheap. You can also hire a tutor or sign up with a language school. For software programs, Top 10 Reviews ranks Fluenz Spanish at number one for beginners; Rosetta Stone comes in fourth and Pimsleur Spanish Unlimited at fifth. All are $150-$200. CNET puts Rocket Spanish in first place; Pimsleur, second, Rosetta Stone, fifth and Fluenz, sixth. Both sites evaluate for teaching tools, extras and price. If you’re looking for an app, CNET rates Babbel Mobile for Android, Duolingo and Rosetta Course at one, two and three. Babbel, available in offline mode for smartphones and tablets, has an extensive vocabulary list, by category, with images and voice recognition. Duolingo is fast paced and uses picture-matching vocabulary, plus it’s free. Rosetta’s app also uses word/picture making in the early lessons, as well as voice matching help for pronunciation. The price is steep, but Rosetta is a reliable brand. Aside from learning the vocabulary and grammar, you’ll need to get used to the rhythms and sounds of Spanish. One of the best ways to do that is through radio and television. Listen to Spanish language programs—my favorite trick is to watch a baseball game with Spanish-speaking commentators. You can follow the action visually while training your ear. Familiar movies and TV shows with Spanish soundtracks are another good way to listen. Whatever way  you choose to learn, it’s all for nothing if you don’t speak. In general, most Ticos are pleased you’re making an effort; they’ll gently correct you and not laugh or sneer at your efforts. Learning a language may not be easy, but you did it once in your life, so you can do it again. Living in Costa Rica can be one of the most amazing chapters of your life; it will be so much better, though, if you can read the book and communicate about it, as well.

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Never a Better Time to Buy Property in Los Sueños Resort

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2017 is the perfect time to invest in property in Los Sueños Resort & Marina

Costa Rica’s Los Sueños Resort and Marina (sueños is the Spanish word for “dreams”) on the Central Pacific Coast, is planned community of world-class luxury single family villas and condominiums. Grouped in residential communities, at Los Sueños Resort, the Pura Vida lifestyle that so many dream of, becomes a reality.   Los Sueños’ Marina Village serves as a lively town center, with great restaurants, retail shops and business services. La Iguana, the 18-hole championship course, the private Beach Club, and the Under 8teens family activity center are just some of the on-site amenities.   There has never been a better time than the spring of 2017 to invest in a second home in Los Sueños Resort & Marina. Here are some of our top listings that won’t last long in this great market.     Villas

Casa Vista Paraiso

Brand new and fully furnished, Casa Vista Paraiso is a spectacularly luxurious estate at Los Sueños Resort & Marina. Set on the resort’s Eco Golf Estates, its 8,950 square feet snuggle into a forest oasis of 100-year-old trees. With no detail overlooked, this casa is a paradise designed for plenty of outdoor living and family fun. Check out Casa Vista Paraiso here

Casa de Sueños

Casa de Sueños, at Los Sueños Resort and Marina, faces La Iguana Championship Golf Course. Built for outdoor living, the 8,000+ square foot home provides for gracious living on a grand scale, surrounded by lush gardens and rainforest.  See Casa De Sueños here

Casa Pacifica

Casa Pacifica, in the Vista Tres Bahias community at Los Sueños Resort & Marina, is an executive retreat with panoramic views of Herradura Bay and the surrounding rainforest., yet minutes from an abundance of resort amenities, Casa Pacifica is the perfect escape.  Learn more about Casa Pacifica here

Villa Shapiro

Villa Shapiro, in Los Sueños’ exclusive Altamira neighborhood, offers fabulous views of the Marina, Herradura Bay, and Herradura Island in 6,600 square feet of living space.  Find out more about Villa Shapiro by visiting this link

Condos

Marbella, 1D located close to the Marina, is one of Los Sueños’ upscale communities. This second-floor unit has great views of the marina and the ocean beyond. With 3 en suite bedrooms, powder room and top-notch kitchen, the open floor plan and outdoor terrace provide all the room anyone could ask for entertaining or a quiet evening. See more of Marbella 1D here    Bay Residence, 10B is a rarity in Costa Rica: one of the few ocean-front condos. This penthouse condo, with 2,200 square features 3 bedrooms and 2 baths with vaulted ceilings, making a tropical dream come true. The terrace faces the Pacific for great sunsets and ocean views.  Check out Bay Residence 10B   Terrazas, 3D is a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath condo in the Altamira community features a large living area that overlooks the Pacific. It’s a perfect place to relax, watch the comings-and-goings at the marina and stare out to sea. Find out  more about Terrazas 3D   With its spectacular sunsets over the Pacific and dramatic rainforest backdrops, Los Sueños’ villas, condos, and eco-homes could be the next place you call home. We think you’ll agree: The dreams of La Pura Vida have become reality.

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Closing Costs on Real Estate Transactions in Costa Rica

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The basics of closing costs on real estate in Costa Rica

Congratulations, you’ve found your dream home at Los Sueños Resort and Marina, made an offer and the seller has accepted it. Before you call the moving company, you have some footwork to do which can be complicated if you don’t have someone to guide you through the process.

Make sure you understand all of the transactions you are participating in. Ask for a translator if you feel you need one so you know what to expect and what’s expected from you.

In Costa Rica, notaries are highly trained lawyers with additional legal duties; your real estate lawyer should also be a notary.

While you have the same rights as a Costa Rican citizens, it’s common to buy property as a limited liability corporation or sociedad anonima (S.A.) to protect your purchase and separate it from all your other assets. Should you decide to go this route, there would be a cost involved to set up that entity. Your real estate lawyer can likely assist you with this, as well.

Title searches or title insurance (1% – 2% of the purchase price) to guarantee clear title are becoming a common practice in Costa Rica.

Strictly speaking, closing costs include registration, notary and attorney fees, documentary stamps and transfer taxes. The basis for these costs amount to no more than 6% of the purchase price. In most cases, as the buyer you are responsible for these costs, which are calculated as follows:

 

  • The fee for the transfer deed, by law, is 2% on the first 10 million colones, 1.50% on the five million colones thereafter, 1.25% on the 15 million colones thereafter and 1% on the balance of the sales price.

 

  • Property Transfer Taxes: 3.1% of the declared property value, which is always lower than market value. Registering the declared value means lower property transfer fees up front, which valuation to use is up to you.

 

  • Government Taxes and Fees: Your notary pays a 0.5% registration fee (0.5%) and buys a combination of fiscal stamps (0.55%) to affix to the property documents.

 

  • Mortgage Registration Fees: The borrower pay sale mortgage drafting and registration fees. The assessed cost is approximately 0.25% of the sale price, plus 0.53% of the sales price in documentary stamps. An additional 0.5-1.25% of the mortgage amount is due in notary fees.

 

  • Attorney fees are phased: 1.5% of the first $1,750 (one million colones) and 1.25% of the remaining sale price.

 

Of course, there may be other costs and fees involved in your new Costa Rica home purchase, such as appraisal fees or real estate agent commissions; though these are normally paid by the seller, they are sometimes split between the two parties.

Los Sueños is a carefully designed and master-planned resort community, you can be sure that your new home reflects the luxury standards set for a unique residential community set in a brilliant and vibrant tropical landscape.  The experts at HRG are professionals who can provide a wide range of real estate services, and advice, which will meet all your needs.

 

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The Foodie’s Survival Guide to Living in Los Sueños Costa Rica

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Los Sueños Resort is a great place for foodies to call home

Foodies can live the dream at Los Sueños Resort & Marina: Fresh, locally sourced seafood, tropical fruits and vegetables, as well as local spices and coffees, are readily available. Here’s how to eat well without breaking the budget.

Right next door to Los Sueños Resort & Marina, you’ll find the Harradura shopping center, which is home to Automercado, the nation’s higher end grocery store. Automercado has a decent wine, beer and liquor section, and also stocks plenty of imported goods, as well as local fare including fresh fish, fresh meat, cheese, veggies (with a great organic section) and fruits.

In Jacó, 10 minutes from Los Sueños Resort, you can find artisanal breads, cheeses, and tropical fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market. Known as feria verde, the market opens Friday mornings at the south end of Avenida Pastor Diaz. From the center of town, turn right at the Palacio Municipal, then right again near the Post Office. Jaco also boasts a Mas x Menos supermarket (owned by Wallmart), and a Maxi-bodega for the more budget-minded shopper.

If you’re planning a trip to San Jose, there are several ferias throughout the week. Arrive early, within the first few hours, for the best selection.

Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Feria Verde de Aranjuez is fun to visit at the Polideportivo of Barrio Aranjuez, and you’ll find plenty of seasonal organic produce. Food vendors sell breakfast, coffee, smoothies and more at the pavilion, including Bolivian peanut soup and falafel sandwiches. You’ll also find artesanal breads, pastries and cheeses at this very popular street market. With live music and a high vibrational, hippy kind of groove, it’s a great place to spend a Saturday morning.

Escazú’s market, every Saturday, 4:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., is on the south side of the San Miguel de Escazú church. Though not organic, you’ll find farm-grown fresh produce—the old standbys as well as the more exotic fruits, herbs and vegetables indigenous to Costa Rica. You’ll also find barley, chan, linseed, tamarind and other products—cheeses, juices, empanadas, tortillas, handicrafts, plants, flowers and live aquarium fish.

The market in Ciudad Colon, Tuesdays, 3 – 9 p.m., at the Mercado Viejo is associated with the Aranjuez organic market and like the Feria Verde de Aranjuez, vendors must meet organic growers’ guidelines. Fresh-picked produce, specialty cheeses, organic gluten-free flours, lovely spice mixes, local honey, breads and pastries rival any American health food store, including garden plants and handcrafted gifts.

If you hanker after the taste of home, Jimmy T’s Provisions and Gourmet Foods, at the Los Suenos Marina, has a variety of specialty items: Buckhead Beef, local and imported cheeses, marinades, Asian and Italian ingredients, as well as spices and condiments to satisfy the exacting epicure. Jimmy T’s has deli trays and offers concierge, chef and catering services that will keep the pantry full without lifting a finger.

Also in the Marina Village, you’ll find a well stocked wine specialty store so you can always find the perfect pairing for your gourmet meals.

Finally, many restaurants in and around Los Sueños take pride in innovative menus that offer a Tico take on the best of international cuisine. Most weekday evenings, one of the restaurants in Marina Village has great offers on great meals. For our top 10 picks, check out our post, “A Foodie’s Dream.”

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Six Things You Should Know About Buying Property in Costa Rica

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Buying property in Costa Rica is easier than you think; here’s what you need to know:

The decision to buy a home in Costa Rica is exciting. The purchase process may seem straightforward, but there are potential pitfalls, especially if you’re buying a previously owned property. Here are six things to know about buying property in Costa Rica.

You have the same property ownership rights as Costa Ricans except for beachfront property. The Maritime Zone Law governs about 95% of Costa Rica coastline. The first 200 meters from the high tide mark define the Maritime Zone boundary. Property within the Maritime Zone is available only as a concession for use defined by the Maritime Zone Law and other regulations set by municipalities and the Institute of Tourism. Only Costa Rican citizens can own a concession. However, you can enter a partnership with a Costa Rican as the majority partner.

An attorney who is also a Public Notary is a requirement and a good idea. An attorney knows whether you’re buying property with an ownership right (derecho de propiedad) or a right of occupation (derecho de ocupación). A right of occupation means the land isn’t registered, cannot be title-searched and will require a long process before entry in the Public Registry. Ownership rights give you clear title to the property once the formalities are complete.

Most properties in Costa Rica have a unique identification number registered in the Folio Real system at the Public Registry in San José. Before you buy or make an offer, ask for a title search in the Folio Real that provides all the property information, including area, ownership, boundaries, location, mortgages and other liens. Some properties aren’t in the Folio Real, but are still searchable.

You’ll also need a surveyor. Your attorney must record a survey at the Public Registry to transfer, mortgage or acquire a property. A municipal authorization is also required on the survey. Both bodies validate and approve the property survey. You should register a new survey to avoid boundary line disputes.

Some properties were never recorded; families have lived there for generations and others were never occupied. Sometimes people will claim ownership and put a property up for sale. Unless it’s recorded at the Public Registry, there’s no clear title. Avoid such a property; there’s simply no way to prove transferable ownership or determine what you’re buying.

Your attorney will prepare the deed for signature at the close of escrow and record it in her notary book, before immediately recording it at the Public Registry. Upon submission to the Registry, you’re protected against subsequent third party interest. Once the deed is verified as correct, staff will record your ownership.

You probably dream of life in a balmy tropical paradise where you can enjoy the creature comforts in your home overlooking the ocean. Los Sueños Resort and Marina caters to that dream, making one of its master-planned properties a great investment. The professionals at Los Sueños have the experience to smooth your path to your new home.

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Everything You Need to Know About Shipping Your Belongings to Costa Rica

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Moving to Costa Rica is easier than you think. Here’s what you need to know about shipping your stuff.

The adventure of an overseas move to your new home in Costa Rica comes with a few challenges that are easily met with preparation and advance planning. Just as with any move, you’ll probably want to pare down your belongings and decide what you what to take, dump or store. To help you make informed decisions, here are a few things to consider.

Contact two or three companies that specialize in international moves. Ask specifically about the company’s experience with moving to Costa Rica. A knowledgeable move coordinator can give you a reliable shipping timeline, explain the firm’s procedures and knows the paperwork required for particular items. The coordinator can also advise you on the correct container size for your possessions.

The Costa Rican government levies taxes and duties on everything shipped into the country, even clothing and toiletries. However, whatever is in your suitcase when you arrive is exempt from import duties. Extra baggage charges are almost certainly going to be less than taxes and duty. Also be sure the declared value of the items you ship is as low as you can reasonably state it.

With the right preparation, you can bring high-value items—vehicles, boats, large appliances—with you, but import duties will be expensive. Washing machines and similar home appliances incur heavy import duties, but they are very expensive to buy in Costa Rica for the same reason.

It’s fairly easy to bring dogs and cats into Costa Rica, you’ll need a health certificate (APHIS FORM 7001, in duplicate—a Spanish translation may also be a good idea) and proof of current vaccinations from your vet. Pets usually have a 72-hour quarantine and there are specialty companies that can handle the details for you. Costa Rica will allow you to bring your bird, but your bird will become a permanent resident—Costa Rica does not allow bird exports under any circumstances. Registered, purebred animals will require a statement or purchase receipt indicating market value.

Do your research about required vaccinations or you’ll risk having your pet euthanized or quarantined. A veterinarian from the U.S.D.A.’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services area office must endorse the health certificate. Visit Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for more information

You’ll probably want to want to buy into the Caja if you are a legal resident. Costa Rica’s healthcare system is one of the best and least expensive healthcare systems in the world. Costs vary depending on income but the monthly cost covers an entire family. Private insurance similar to that available in the U.S. is another option.

Moving is never easy, whether around the block or across the world. Ex pat life in Costa Rica has many benefits: beautiful scenery, friendly people and an easy lifestyle.