Let Costa Rica get your spirits up, Instead of Covid bringing you down

Let Costa Rica get your spirits up.

Let Costa Rica get your spirits up instead of covid bringing you down. Yes, the election is over, and the cold weather is in across a couple hemispheres. Yet here we are enjoying what Costa Rica has to offer.  Ask anyone their top reasons for coming to Costa Rica and the first 3 or 4 things they tell you will be familiar. Warm weather, Lots of Beaches, Friendly people, Great ecosystems, Surfing, and that list goes on. That and the restrictions in North America should be enough to get you on a connecting flight to our great area for at least 90 days.

I am including a link further down to my web page with dozens of Covid test facilities to accommodate you on your return trip whenever that may be.

But there are some even better reasons to get to Costa Rica 

It seems we have people from all over the world here soaking up the sun on those very beaches. Spending days together with friends new and old having adventures near and far. But there are some even better reasons to get to Costa Rica. Some of the ways Costa Rica get your spirits up.

Over the years that I traveled here and now living here for 7 years, bits and pieces make up memories and experiences that shape each day. With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, its easy to find families in need and great people going out of their way every day to help. From food drives to personal phone calls, great volunteers and friends are here in paradise being all they can be. It is awesome to see and you can be sure seeing that dedication is forming new memories daily. With that said they need your help. I know I have asked before. And trust me, I will ask again, until this pandemic is over. Please give I will attach more information and links below.

But this newsletter is dedicated to a good friend and his family back in Canada.

You will not find it in a travel brochure.  

But there are other memories that come in such different ways. A few years ago, I was visiting family and friends in Canada. We were invited to the home of a personal friend for BBQ and some great conversation. I had met my friend years earlier through work and later met his wife. During dinner she shared memories of a time she spent in Costa Rica as a young woman on an exchange program. She enjoyed it so much, that she stayed a few months longer after the exchange ended. She talked about Costa Rica and the host family with vigor and a sparkle in her eyes. The Spanish she had learned quickly came back, and the evening turned out to be an incredibly special treat. Sadly, she became terribly ill and was taken from us before she was able to return. I am so glad she shared that memory. You will not find it in a travel brochure. I guess that is one to those special moments, that cannot be reduced to words.

Costa Rica has been named as the number one.

Again, Costa Rica has been named as the number one place to retire. Like we didn’t know. Here is a link to a great article on just that topic. Let Costa Rica get your spirits up

Costa Rica is named as the Best Accessible Destination 2021

So how do we get here? And what about returning? Many people decided to stay though the pandemic. Landed residents or not, Costa Rica has been very gracious in extending everyone’s travel visa. Letting those lucky enough to be in paradise stay a little longer. Even though Costa Rica does not require testing for entry, For those of you wanting to travel back and forth, your now required to have a test prior to boarding a plane to many countries. I am attaching a link to page listing all of the testing facilities to accommodate you here in Costa Rica including our local Clinic here in Playas del Coco.

Click this link for;  Costa Rica Covid Testing Facilities 

Here is some information to donate to the local food drives as the great volunteers work thru the Covid pandemic; 

  1. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL. You can PAYPAL or ZELLE to michael@tanktopsflipflops.com
  2. “Patas y Manos” (Paws and Hands)   https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s xclick&hosted_button_id=Z8DDX5FBJWNWW&source=url

Some of the Great Properties Available

Click on the property for the listing and click below for the video

Pacifico Lot 13 Spec Home  $895,000. Playas del Coco

Mar Vista Private Estate $1,395,000, Playa Hermosa

Casa de Atardecer, $695,000.  Playa Hermosa

Ladera del Mar Ranchitos Ridge Lot 4, $219,000.  Playas Del Coco

Condominium Jade Beach B17, $92,000  Playas del Coco

Condominium Flamenco Rosa C3, $141,000.  Playas del Coco

Pacifico Lifestyle 509, $144,000.  Playas Del Coco

Prados del Rio 18, $134,900.  Comunidad 

Costa Rica Updated. Entry Requirements, Real Estate, & Helping the Needy. Nov 21, 2020

Costa Rica Updated, Travel, Real Estate, & Helping the Needy as of November 21, 2020 is a 3 part news letter that includes some great news. Hi everyone, I hope you are all well and will have the time to digest this newsletter over the next couple days. Please share with you family and friends. As you know growing this base is a big part of my business. As such I appreciate each new connection made in the hopes of helping them realize the dream of spending time in paradise.

The 3 parts are to this Costa Rica Updated newsletter are: Helping the needy, Updated entry requirements, and a Real Estate update for 2020.

Helping the needy here in and around the Papagayo beaches. Costa Rica Updated

Michael Simons helping the needy

As you know the Covid pandemic took a huge hit on the tourism industry and back in February-March put our beaches out of business. The ripple effect has been huge, and its people like our own Michael Simons, broker/owner of Tres Amigos Realty Group, that have stepped up to win the day. That said they can’t do it alone. They really do need your help via donations either personally, together with family or at work. To that end some great people have come together to raffle holiday packages here in Costa Rica. Here is just one such offer.

Here is your chance to win a trip for 4 to COSTA RICA and you can help FEED PEOPLE at the same time. For just $100 you get a raffle ticket. There are only 100. All the money goes to buy food for the amazing people of Costa Rica who have been struggling for 8 months with the tourism shut down. Even though we are open for business only a small percentage of people will get their jobs back, so we will need to continue to do this for a while. PLEASE open your wallets and your hearts and donate. The winner gets 4 airline tickets to Costa Rica and a week’s stay in a luxurious PACIFICO 3 bedroom condo. You can ZELLE or PAYPAL to michael@tanktopsflipflops.com and MAKE SURE to put CARDELLA CHALLENGE #5 in the description to get you into this draw.

It takes approximately $1000 USD to feed 60 families. 100% of your donation goes to feeding affected families. Many of these people just don’t have other options. Officially, unemployment is running around 23% and we know it’s much higher at the beaches. In return for food, people have been collecting garbage, cleaning entire villages and roadways as exchange for your donations. They are good and humble people with their backs to the wall at this time, Please remember them in your prayers and hearts. No gift is to small or to large.

Real Estate 2020, Costa Rica Updated

We have all heard a common saying when it comes to Real Estate. Location, Location, Location. Over this past year, this has shown itself to be true once again. Sales in the area are happening as the pandemic, elections, and protest riots, are making many people rethink their current lifestyle. In researching Costa Rica, most people will also discover the government here, as in all other countries, is under financial pressure, with a fiscal outlook adding up to 3 or 4 difficult years ahead. As always different areas will feel those effects more than others. Thats where “Location” comes in and where the “Good News” starts.  Because this area was designated as a special tourist area by Costa Rica many years ago, we have received many upgrades in infrastructure, including electrical lines, water, fibre optics, and roads. There’s a few more things to do. There always is. After all, Costa Rica is an emerging country. That said, this area is in great shape. Liberia is growing fast, feeding into our base and we remain the best spot in Costa Rica to live. As a result sales in our part of the country are ok. We had some fire sales due to the pandemic, but we’ve sold most of that inventory and more then ever sellers have decided to take their properties off the market, and stay in Costa Rica.              Here is a peak at some 2020 sales in our immediate area. Costa Rica Updated.

Condos $0 – $500,000; 50+ units not including 6 the owners who decided to keep their condos

Homes/Villas $0 – $800,000; 27+ Homes & Villas sold,  4 owners decided to stay

Villas $800,000 plus; 7+ Villas. Plus 3 Villa owners decided to keep their properties

Lots; Oceanview and non-oceanview 18+ Mainly oceanview

These are sold or currently under contract. Most of the local market is sold by our own Tres Amigos Realty Group, and many properties this year were sold using videos, or live walk through media prior to the new owners arrival.

Here is a small selection of current listings. Please see my website for the expanded assortment of available properties.


Play this video here Pacifico C 107
Oceanview Villa, Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, CR
4 Bedroom 4.5 Bath, Pacifico, Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
Oceanview Condo with Private beach club
Custom built on large lot, Intown Playas del Coco

 Entry Requirements & Links, Costa Rica Updated,

Costa Rica Passport Entry Stamp/Visa

Tourism is starting to return, abate at a slower pace. That said property sales are alive and well, as many people have decided to make Costa Rica home, either full or part time.

Travelers from pretty much every country can enter Costa Rica with minimal requirements. As far as we know that will not change. But always be cautious when booking flights etc., as flight coverages vary depending on your country of origin and government travel advisories. For now here are simplified requirements for entering Costa Rica.

As a Tourist;

Costa Rica requires you to fill out a health pass prior to coming. The pass is available online and is submitted online. A link to the pass “here”

Costa Rica also requires Covid-19 travel insurance. The minimum requirement included in that insurance is $50,000 USD medical, and $2,000 USD housing. There are exemptions for the housing component, provided you supply proof of a rental contract or ownership of a home.

Remember the insurance coverage must match the number of days you will be in the country, and, you must provide written proof of same. (preferably in Spanish)

No Covid test is required

As a Resident.

Fill out the health pass online prior to coming and submit online A link to the pass “here”

You must provide proof that your Caja payments are up to date. If you are not up to date, Costa Rica provides a remedy for that situation. Please follow the link below for more information

You must have a valid Resident/Dimex card. If it is expired, you will enter as a tourist.

No Covid test is required

As a Citizen

Fill out the health Pass online and submit online. Link “Here”

No Covid test is required

Carrying insurance in Costa Rica. A few thoughts.

We tend to search in our home countries for insurance either for travel, life or special insurance such as needed for Covid-19 coverage. In listening to some  doctors and Phil Eitman of All Insurance Costa Rica, I have gained some insight into the idea, “Not all insurance coverage is equal”. To get to the point, not all private hospitals will accept just any insurer for emergency or scheduled procedures. The simple reason is that in the past they would have to fight for payment from the insurance company. As such they may require payment by credit card for services. Then provide you with the paperwork necessary to be reimbursed. That may be suitable for you in an emergency. Of course many people are covered through a policy from home or work to one degree or another. If you plan on living here full time or for extended periods, some advise and a level of coverage from Phil and the team at All Insurance CR is worthwhile. They have been doing this for years and can answer questions correctly instead of someone’s opinion online, including my own. You can contact All Insurance Costa Rica. “here”

For Covid-19 insurance, Here are 3 Costa Rican links

INS,   Sagicor  & All Insurance Costa Rica

Full Costa Rica travel information is available from The Costa Rican Tourism Board. They will answer any questions you may have. Contact them here

Thanks for taking the time to read this newsletter ” Costa Rica Updated, November 21, 2020 and contact me anytime. The best compliment I can receive is a referral to your friends. 

Costa Rica Independence 2020


September 15th, Independence day in Costa Rica.

That’s right Independence Day. Wind nor rain, nor sun, nor pandemic can change the fact, Costa Rica remains a sovereign country. September 15 in 1821 marks the day Costa Rica, along with the rest of Central America broke away from Spain becoming part of the First Mexican Empire. At that time Costa Rica and Nicaragua already operated as on autonomous region. After a short civil war mainly attributed to the Battle of Ochomogo (next to Cartago) in 1823, the Republicans had defeated the Imperialists to proceed with Costa Rica’s further independence from The First Mexican Empire. All was in vain as word arrived shortly after, that the First Mexican Empire ceased to exist, leaving Costa Rica in union as part of the Federal Republic of Central America. In 1825 Juan Mora Fernández was elected the first Costa Rican head of state. Four towns in Central Valley, Heredia, Cartago, Alajuela and San Jose argued over the Capital until 1837 when San Jose was officially declared. Having operated as an independent state for many years, Costa Rica formally withdrew from Guatemala City’s central government and the Federal Republic of Central America.

Some interesting highlights about Costa Rica as a Sovereign State.

Costa Rica built its initial wealth on coffee exports starting 200 years ago. This ushered in the Coffee Baron Era. That is another story. (I personally spent much time in a building witch once housed a Coffee Baron family. It is interesting to witness the difference in construction which housed these rich families).

Prior to coffee, Cocoa, tobacco, and sugar were the primary exports with bananas arriving approximately 100 years later.

I believe the biggest portion of inhabitants in the central plateau around the time of independence were of Spanish origin with other Europeans. Later this was followed by USA Americans, Some Chinese and Jamaicans on the Atlantic coast.

The ox cart was the main mode of commercial transportation, with a few ox carts remaining in use today. This is a recent photo about 20 miles from where I am sitting. Still in use to move sand and gravel around some back lanes.


(Filadelfia de Guanacaste)

During Costa Rica’s history, there have been different leaders including military dictator presidents. But the most significant event since independence was the military being abolished. As a personal note. No one can predict the future. But as we look to some of our neighboring countries, we are seeing the military being used against its citizens. The foresight to prevent that from becoming a possibility here in Costa Rica is noted.

In 1849 the province of Chiriquí joined Panama. This was a sore spot for Costa Rica. In that area, french competed as the primary language and is still used as a second language today.

1825 was the year Guanacaste decided to join, and was annexed by Costa Rica. This event sometime gets confused with Independence Day. At the time of joining Guanacaste was known as Nicoya. But that is a whole different story

Independence day is regularly celebrated with every variety of Dance and parade. Ticos can dance like the wind and do get dressed up for the occasion.

More facts;

It does not snow in Costa Rica and we are below Hurricane Alley. We get tropical storms. But the last hurricane to hit Costa Rica soil was over 150 years ago. Costa Rica is home to the only place in the world you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from one spot. Costa Rica has set aside 25% of it’s land as protected zones. That’s no small feat. We house an estimated 5% of the worlds bio-diversity.

Life Costa Rica style, or as we say Pura Vida

Theo Veenstra and LetsBuyCostaRica.com to be apart of Costa Rica and Paradise. Don’t miss another Independence day here in Costa Rica

Costa Rica continues to open, Welcome back to Costa Rica

Starting to hear those familiar words. Welcome to Costa Rica

With the required testing becoming available, Costa Rica has again open it’s doors to more people including some US states. Of course, more will follow ever so shortly.

Right here I will advise you to remember something I have stated before and learned early during my life here in Costa Rica. “In Costa Rica, the government always throws out regulations and statements that are changed within days and weeks” We have seen that time after time, and it can be very confusing.

Why just a few countries and a handful of US states at this time? Lets figure out why. First here is a current list of the countries Costa Rica is excepting flights from:

CURRENT AS OF August 20, 2020

Australia                                                                                            Canada
Swiss Confederation                                                                       Vatican State
Luxembourg                                                                                     Ireland
Japan                                                                                                  New Zealand
Liechtenstein                                                                                    Monaco
Belgium                                                                                              Denmark
Spain                                                                                                   Netherlands
Norway                                                                                               Sweden
Thailand                                                                                             Northern Ireland
Great Britain                                                                                     Theo
Czech Republic                                                                                 Cypriot Republic
Austria                                                                                                Bulgaria
Korea                                                                                                  Croatia
Slovenia                                                                                             Estonia
Finland                                                                                               Hungary
Iceland                                                                                                Latvia
Lithuania                                                                                            Malta
Poland                                                                                                 San Marino
Singapore                                                                                           Slovak Republic
Germany                                                                                            France
Greece                                                                                                 Italy                                Uruguay                                                                                             China                      Portugal                                                                                             Romania

USA (Partial) Residents from the states of;    New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut

This is one of those area’s that gets a little confusing.

Last week, Costa Rica informed the public, residents of other states and countries may also enter provided they can show proof of having quarantined in one of the admissible countries for 14 days prior to flying into Costa Rica. It would be apparent that quarantines in one of the 6 admissible USA states should suffice. However, I will admit I do not know the requirements to prove you were there for that timeframe. Other than a passport stamp upon entry into a certain country.

Costa Rica needed time like everyone else to figure out what this pandemic involved. It’s very easy to just through resources at a problem like this and have much of those same resources go to waste. As we know Costa Rica does a better job all and all then our Central American neighbors, yet they work with much less then you may be accustomed too. As an example, Costa Rica has now increased the number of intermediate-care beds to over 1000 and intensive-care beds to almost 300 for COVID-19 patients in the public health system. That is a major increase from a mere 24 intensive-care beds 5 months ago.

Costa Rica requires a RT-PCR test within 48 hours of boarding a flight for either San Jose or Liberia airports. The required Covid-19 test (RT-PCR Test) is not available everywhere at the moment. The test will become readily available in most parts of the world, as many countries, businesses, etc. have issued requirements asking for the specific test. As to why the 6 US states? We are told that is based on testing being available. Click this link for a short video about the RT-PCR test.

Costa Rica is not asking for much

The other main concern in accepting foreigners, was that Costa Rica has traditionally provided emergency health services to travelers. In looking at the bigger picture, it would help the remember that Costa Rica hosts a very large number of foreign workers. Along with many expats that take advantage of the system by doing border runs to renew the required passport stamps instead of applying for residency. The government became and still is worried the public system will be overwhelmed and as such the new insurance requirements will provide needed relieve in that department. Let’s take a quick moment to look at the requirement.

Costa Rica is not asking for much. The simple insurance requirement asks that a) it is valid throughout the planned visit to Costa Rica. B) Covers medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica, for at least $50,000 (fifty thousand United States dollars). c) Includes a minimum coverage of $2,000 for expenses of extended lodging due to the pandemic. Insurance companies around the world can and are putting products in place to match these requirements. As a matter fact, most policies cover far more that this already. Two things seem to stand in the way. First are the travel advisories or precaution levels issued by various countries. By default, those advisories can void current policies. Now that those same advisories are being removed, many policies are good again. Secondly is that the policy states Costa Rica and is accepted here. I hope to have some updated information very soon and will send out email to keep people up to speed. Costa Rica itself offers policies through INS and Sagicor or just go to All Insurance CR

History will tell us if Costa Rica handled this pandemic well and I am certainly not going to ask you to take sides. One thing I have noticed from a Real Estate point of view, is that the serious property owners, including new buyers and current sellers are far more focused and patient then the average tourist. That speaks volumes for the type of people Costa Rica is attracting. Why do I mention that? Those same focused, patient people will be your new neighbors.

Yes, there are some deals to be had and they won’t last forever. Now is a great time to act on them. Give me a call today and lets get up to speed on your move to paradise. Remember I’m here to help anytime.

Costa Rica update, (Travel, Purchase, Live) The dream is alive

Ever since the first time I heard of Costa Rica, It became the place of dreams. Why was Costa Rica recommended to me? The same reason I recommend it to you. With everything going on around the world. Costa Rica isn’t just a great place to travel. It’s a great place to purchase and live your dreams in paradise.

At the moment getting here is a bit of an issue. As is most of the rest of the world. But just hang tight, we will work it out. Lets get up to speed. 

Towards the end of March, Costa Rica the place of dreams, imposed travel restrictions on foreigners entering the country basically following the World Health Organizations guidelines. That included many restrictions for the Costa Rican population. Some of the restrictions may have been over the top or not. Truthfully past is past and we need to focus on tomorrow. So where does that leave us in respect to tourism, ownership and living your dreams here in Costa Rica? Lets see where we are presently and then Speak to where I believe things will go in the near future.

As of Aug 2nd, Costa Rica opened it’s borders to almost everyone with considerable hurdles. As stated in the link below, Costa Rica is accepting people from Canada, UK and European Union. Residents of other countries can also fly into Costa Rica through any of the above countries with a condition of having had a 14 day stay in said countries prior to entry. Costa Rica is also requiring a negitive Covid-19 test within 48 hours of take off. The Covid-19 is a PCR-RT test. My understanding is that this test is already available at some European airports. Costa Rica also requires Travel insurance available through INS the Costa Rican state insurance company.  Yes it’s expensive. Next a digital epideiological must also be submitted The link to the form it also attached below. Lastly the only way into Costa Rica is by air. Land borders are closed and will remain so to non-business travel. I do not have information on entering via water ports. But I expect they are being treated the same as land borders.

So why is Costa Rica being so hard entry. It seems the government is under the impression as is most of the rest of the world that restricting entry will slow down the spread of this virus. The main objective here is to not overload the health system here both physically and financially. Many people complain about the closures on the economy and they are not necessarily wrong. But I want to take a moment and explain the financial aspect. Between tourists and seasonal or other workers, Costa Rica can have as many as 700,000 foreigners at any one time during high season. Most of those people do not carry any type of health insurance or contribute to the state system, even though the price of doing so is very economical here in Costa Rica. Imagine the financial burden on a small country of 5,000,000 people in providing free emergency healthcare to all those foreigners.

What is Costa Rica doing to adjust? And where do I see that going in the near future?  

The government here traditionally handles adversary in the same way. Costa Rica puts out laws or requirements and then changes everything later. Yes it’s confusing, but its something you will get used to when your living here. The same will happen with entry/travel requirements. On a good note, the government has on several occasions, graciously extended the time foreigners currently in the country can stay. With visa and drivers license extensions permitted until November 18th. I do believe they will extend the visa again should it be needed. The president has asked the social security ministry to rethink the travel insurance coverage requirements. My understanding is they will allow private insurers with coverage of medical expenses of a minimum of $20,000 and housing coverage of at least $4,000. Those are extremely low minimums and insurance companies will have low cost options. The PCR-RT test has a turn around time of 3-4 hours. In the very near future it will be easily available almost anywhere around the world. If you can have something sent online in a day or two, this test will be available. The health ministry has also increased the number of beds available for Covid-19 patients, so we are not hitting capacity at the moment.

Watch my YouTube and Facebook Channels for updates

   My Opinion is: We are experiencing a very different life at the moment here in Costa Rica, just as other places around the world. We are currently headed into our rainiest part of the year. As such I believe the government is just pushing things a little further down the line. I can’t help but think the easing of restrictions are coming in time for high season and Costa Rica will open up as other countries equally open. I would suggest to keep your travel plans in place. Also this is a great opportunity to buy the home of your dreams here in paradise. Interestingly many deals are being bought up as the dream is alive in Costa Rica. Get in touch with me now. The cold weather is just a couple months away.

Link to the Epidemiological Form

Link to a great article by The Tico Times related to entry requirements



Stay focused here in Costa Rica, June 2020

I’ve written 4 newsletters that didn’t make it past rough draft in the last 5 weeks. Why you ask? Wanting to “Stay focused”. I have been watching the changes both here in Costa Rica and around the world. What I write tends to be irrelevant the next day. But let’s stay focused for just a minute.

What is happening

Let me start by saying “What is happening around the globe will set a new precedent for how each of us measures tomorrow.” We all have our own opinions about race issues, the virus, history, government, other countries and how things should be handled.

Here in Costa Rica, the government is taking a cautious approach to the Covid 19 as everyone is aware. Some people are not as enthusiastic about the direction Costa Rica has taken as are others. It’s very obvious the effects of our extended shutdown are having and will have on people and business here. Why is this so important? Costa Rica is a developing country. In many ways we are on par with North American and European countries. Yet certain things are still far below ideal and need extra care and support. Many people here maintain life by working on a day to day basis. As anywhere else there is special concern for the poorer communities that live in tighter quarters. Is it difficult to control an outbreak in these areas? Yes! As such, things remain closed down in the hope of containment. So far, the numbers show good results. Let us hope that continues. But make no mistake, a large part of the Costa Rican population is paying a terrific price to maintain those low numbers. This means the government will have to open things up soon. The price is to high both financially and socially.

Short Term Changes

As for the tourism and expat side of things. Yes, I see some changes. Many of our clients are self-employed or small businesspeople. For some of them, life has completely changed, at least in the short term. This is already shuffling the order of Buyers and Sellers.

Several Buyers that were on the fence so to speak have decided to make the move. Some are putting in offers via live video walkthroughs, with or without conditions of the borders opening by a certain date. They are looking to get away from the hysteria that is gripping countries. As such when the border open, they will be living in here within days.

Secondly, the investors are looking for sales. That is not limited to Costa Rica, of course. That is happening throughout the world and we will see more of the same. There is opportunity there. Selling at a reduced price isn’t always bad, when you can also repurchase at the same.

In the short term, the rest of the market remains in a wait and see game. Are prices coming down? I would say there is definitely pressure on prices.

For Sellers. The domestic buyers are having more trouble getting financing because the banks in Costa Rica have tightened up until they see the economy fully reopen and the exchange rate stay stable. (In the last 3 months the exchange has stayed relatively stable). That means there are some good, qualified domestic buyers here looking for a competitive mortgage. Keep that in mind.

All this translates into “the way we do business” is changing. As the world changes, I will change to accommodate everyone’s needs. So, feel free to call me. Just to stay in touch or to run an idea by me. You can be certain we have options to keep your dreams moving ahead.

Costa Rica will remain and strengthen as a tourist destination over time. When the borders open, we should see a decrease to vacation travel in the short term Especially to Hotels. One of the main drivers there is, going into quarantine upon arrival and on return to country of origin. Along with that will be protocols on entry and being able to ensure people do follow the rules. Travel will head towards normal as people become comfortable flying, vaccines come online, protocols are streamlined and the cold weather sets in.

What are some of the challenges Costa Rica faces? The current stop in tourism and the effects that will have on direct flights into Costa Rica pose challenges. Many of you are in or near gateway cities and will not experience much difference. I would expect an extra hour or two in overall travel time.  But for the most part, service will improve as experience is gained just like anything else.

Agriculture is the other big one here. Costa Rica always has about 300,000 migrant workers mainly from Nicaragua. Currently the government published the need for 74,000 farm workers to supplement the current shortage. When rainy season ends that need will increase.

Medical equipment and services comprise a good part of the economy. Agricultural and medical equipment exports are affected as border restrictions and transport difficulties delay products such as raw materials to manufacture, and the packaging needed to export.

What is the upside here in Costa Rica?

I would have to say that personally I have not witnessed the amount of division in Costa Rica that appears in the news from other parts of the world. As for the Virus? The Costa Rican government could not buy the amount of positive advertising we receive with our low numbers. As I mentioned earlier, the people of Costa Rica have and are paying a huge price to keep the country in somewhat of a bubble. The government has also made provisions for the many tourists that decided to stay and ride out the pandemic here, including medical coverage, driving privileges and visa extensions.

On a personal note.

I do believe between the Covid 19 Virus, the racism protests going on around the world, and some other serious issues, we have an opportunity to come closer together in a common cause. As long as we stay focused. Personally, I was never the protester type. But I certainly believe the voice of the people has a place. Sadly, a very few destroy what others are trying to achieve. I believe in the police. Again a few seem to turn the tide for other good hard-working people. I’m a Christian guy. I have no trouble saying that, either at work or in private. So, you won’t have to guess how I look at things. I am open in hearing what others believe or do not believe. Every day is a good day to learn something new. But I will say this. We learned right and wrong at home, at school, at church, at work and at play. We learned it from our parents, our teachers, our friends, our friend’s parents, and coworkers. It was and still should be treasured to be treated or treat others with respect. Black Lives Matter? Of Course! All lives matter. It is very evident that many people have taken their eye of the ball. It has taken us years of indifference to get to this point. Look around. What we allow into the mainstream out of indifference cannot be changed overnight. Let us all stay focused on what really matters and start making the changes in ourselves needed to build a better future. Doing so will include standing up for what’s right and proper. To many times over the years all of us have disagreed with what the new acceptable is. Yet we have not always taken the time to get those important changes reversed. I suggest it’s time to start turning the ship around. That’s about as honest as I can be without writing a book. I know it’s what my friends expect of me.

Lastly. The borders here in Costa Rica will open. Be patient and before you know it, we will all be enjoying each other’s company again. In the mean time, Buyers are taking this opportunity to pick up properties using our online videos and by live walkthroughs. Don’t miss your chance to get the next part of your life started. It seems our area of Costa Rica really is becoming one of the most sought after places on earth. Feel free to comment or call me. Lets get you on the path to paradise today.

My YouTube Channel here Lets Buy Costa Rica RE/MAX Theo Veenstra 

Thanks Theo

Make Costa Rica the last border you ever drive across.

How do I know? I drove from Canada through 8 countries to Playas del Coco, Costa Rica. That’s right. In 2012 I did the drive from north of Toronto to Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.

” Now you can give directions without knowing where where it is”

I didn’t stop there!!!! I’ve driven all over Costa Rica, Having been born into the trucking business it seems I like driving. That’s lead me to see alot of Costa Rica, Of course it all started in 2008 when I flew into San Jose and set foot on Costa Rica soil for the first time. Having just finished a 3 week trip driving from Canada down through the Florida keys and back, when by a phone call, Costa Rica was mentioned. Yes I was frustrated with Florida and wanted something different. 3 weeks later I was in San Jose, rented a car (They dropped it at my hotel), and was off to see the country. I drove around San Jose and got completely lost the first day. I’m not sure if it was me or a lack of street signs. Maybe both. I learned my lessons fast. It turns out Ticos (Costa Ricans) will always give you directions. They may not know where you want to go. But that won’t stop them from sending you into the wild blue .  ( A true story; A couple days after I became a Costa Rican citizen, I happened to be on the phone with my importer/exporter (He’s the best)_from Uruca. He said ” Now you can give directions without knowing where it is”).

” You’ll happen upon the nicest people”

During my years of vacationing in Costa Rica, I had always rented a car. Not necessarily for the entire holiday, but usually a week or two. A normal day would be a short day trip to a volcano or across the Monkey Trail and generally an overnight trip to San Jose and Central Valley. I found that stopping at some of the little out of the way sodas, you’ll happen upon the nicest people. On one trip through Los Quetzales National Park,  (South of San Jose on the Pan-Am Highway headed toward San Isidro de El General and Panama) I stopped at a roadside restaurant for a coffee to go. The young couple running the place must have just taken over and they were intent on selling me an empanada. So they sat me down. Both sitting with me, I could sense their excitement and pleasure of having a foreigner in their restaurant.  As I finished the man took me outback to show me 2 volcanoes in the distance. They were so nice, I can still feel myself sitting there. I couldn’t speak a lick of Spanish and they not English, But it was worth the ticket from Toronto just to experience that piece of life. I also enjoy using the fairy over to Puntarenas. A great place to meet interesting people. Here’s a link to a YouTube I did on the fairy ride

Driving in Costa Rica for the most part the same as driving in rural North America. You won’t be on any super freeways. But if you like LA traffic then San Jose has all you need. Yes many of the highways are still 2 lane, although Costa Rica has been working hard over the last 5 years to change that. And Ticos tend to be aggressive drivers. No one knows why. Drive like hell and then sit in a bank or government office for 2 hours patiently waiting. Of course not all roads are clearly marked. What may look like a major road on a map, can turn out to be a narrow street filled with traffic around Central Valley, My Advice; give yourself plenty of time and be ready at a moments notice to see some of the most interesting, uplifting sights ever put on this earth.

Don’t drive at night if you can help it

First lets get one thing out of the way; Don’t drive at night if you can help it. There are still many animals running wild, horses, cows etc can be on the roads. Or you may end up on a back road driving around a mountain with only 4 of 7 narrow bridges marked. Also many people use bicycles and they can be out in full force around dusk or at night. So be carefull. Just like anywhere else in the world, you’ll see kids riding a bike with their face buried in a cell phone. You get the point.

Rainy season brings its own challenges.  Head down a country road in the rainy season only to find out there may not be a bridge across the creek that has now turned into a raging river. You’ll see many SUVs and pickup trucks with a snorkel air breather. That helps when splashing through a creek and some back roads and driveways. At times we do have some road closures due to small landslides or a tropical storm taking a bridge out. All that is generally well advertised and time to just stay home. Pura Vida.
Tips on Cars & Driving in Costa Rica;

  • In Costa Rica, Cars have right of way, followed by bicycles, with pedestrians last.
  • All vehicles must pass a safety check every year. Taxis and Buses twice a year.
  • The maximum speed in Costa Rica is 80 kms per hour (50 miles per hour)
  • All cars must receive prior permission from the Registro Nacional via a permit to leave the country.
  • Rental cars, Cars with registered loans, Cars with outstanding tickets or any other type of encumbrance registered on title are not permitted to leave the country.  
  • Visiting Tourists can drive using their existing drivers license from their home country for up to 90 days.
  • When gaining residency or citizenship, your valid drivers license can be transferred to a new Costa Rican drivers license of the same class.
  • No Parking zones are marked with a yellow curb in most towns.
  • The licence plate stays with the vehicle for the life of the car. All fines, accidents etc. are registered against the title of the car. 
  • Restrictions according to licence plate numbers restrict traffic on certain days in central San Jose.
  • Import duties on cars are assessed according to Costa Rica’s book value. Cars are expensive in Costa Rica. Duties 50% on 0-2 years old, 65% 3-5 years old, 79% over 5 years old. Commercial vehicles and equipment are exempt.
  • Legislation is circulating that will restrict the age of cars allowed to be imported to not over 7 years old. Commercial vehicles will be exemptfrom that age restriction.
  • Carrying an illegal immigrant  in your car is against the law.
  • Every December owners are required to purchase Marchamo or Rights of Movement, Compulsory Automotive Insurance and Su Vida Insurance according to the vehicles status and value. Check your required payment Here
  • The Pan-Am highway runs through Costa Rica as # 1 and # 2. Known as The Pan American Highway, The Inter American Highway and Autopista-Carretera-Ruta Panamericana. Originally built by the US army engineers, it’s part of the worlds longest motorable road.

But as sure as I’m here writing this story, Snow will not be a problem in Costa Rica. We can get hail at times in the mountains south- east of Cartago with Mount Chirripo being the highest point in Costa Rica and the 5th highest peak in Central America at 3,727 meters (12,228 ft) But for the most part everything is accessible and yes traffic does move much slower here. So give yourself plenty of time.

OH, and my drive to Playas del Coco. Well, It took 13 days. I made a few stops on the way, crossing into the United States at Port Huron. and ending up visiting Joe Foster in Illinois, Marvin Lovelace in Arizona. Then on to Mazatlan Mexico and picked a friend who had flown over from Toronto. I had met Steve years earlier in Playas del Coco and as usual in Costa Rica, became friends. Steve and myself arrived in Guanacaste and El Coco on Christmas eve. His future wife didn’t want him to be late for Christmas. But that’s another story for a different newsletter and video. Watch for it. Here’s a link to a video in Costa and you will see Joe and Steve from that drive.  

Yep, It certainly is fun driving around Costa Rica. Playas del Coco and The Gulf of Papagayo make a great jump off point. Within a few minutes you’ve driven past Liberia International Airport and your off to explore some of the most awesome ecosystems God put on this earth. Eventually you will see me on the road. Look for my  RE/MAX signs. Stop and say hello. Until then, Pura Vida.



Wrong News About Costa Rica & Tourists

Most of  the news and articles about Costa Rica are very factual and based on lawyers, realtors research, tourists and of course Real Estate.

This time I want to address a couple things that seem to recur from time to time. And the amount of News, how about“Fake Stuff “. We could call it “bullshit” like it some of it is. But really it boils down to people not being professional.

We have all read about the recent wave deaths related to tainted alcohol that was sold in Costa Rica. And that tourists died consuming this. Let me be perfectly clear on what has happened. As it turns out from my time living in San Jose and owning a bar/restaurant, I happen to have a little background into liquor purchasing and sales.

Wrong News!

Firstly, not one tourist died from any of the bootleg alcohol that was being sold. As a matter of fact, you would be hard pressed to find anyone other then crack heads and street people who would even know where to buy the bootleg booze. Sadly, they did find it and paid a very big price for their efforts.

Secondly, The bootleg booze in question is made to mimic the cheapest type of alcohol available in the country. Most stores, bars and restaurants would never even contemplate carrying the genuine products the bootleg mimics because they are such low-end that customers won’t buy them.

Tourists Should Try This

Thirdly, Costa Ricans (Ticos) drink the same types of liquor as everyone else. The only addition to that is Cacique Guaro which is a sugar cane liquor that is clear and rather pure. It could be said that it’s Costa Rica’s answer to say vodka and can be drank straight but is usually mixed with juice, served on ice. But for the most part Cacique Guaro or Guaro as it is known by its local name is used in Costa Rica’s most famous drink “ChiliGuaro”. If you’ve never had a Chiliguaro, you’re really missing out. Family traditions on just how to get the right mix vary, so be sure try more than one.

Fourth, Jumping on the band wagon to report a story without doing any type of research is just shameful. It’s doesn’t matter what country it’s in, or what product, place or person it’s about. Whenever someone writes in a newspaper, broadcasts live on TV or puts a story on social media “Think”. It can, will and should have a huge effect on people. Get your facts correct, keep things positive, remember to help educate, and support your fellow man or women. Don’t you just get tired of everyone bashing each other? I know I do.


 Lastly, I’m pretty sure Costa Rica is mainland and not an island. I don’t remember taking any long fairy rides when I drove down here from Canada. I do remember how much fun I had, the people I stopped to see along the way and of course the great adventure it was. But then, fun & adventure are just a part of life in Costa Rica.

To answer your questions about Costa Rica, check out my website at www.letsbuycostarica.com , send an email to thveenstra@gmail.com , or call me Theo Veenstra, Remax Ocean Village, toll free at 877-205-5507 and get some real information on buying property and life here around the northern beaches of Costa Rica. I look forward to helping you find your peace in Paradise.

Until then, Pura Vida.

Costa Rica Series; Stormy Weather

Why should you take a good close look at our area of Costa Rica and it’s weather?

In part of my Costa Rica Series of blogs and videos, we will answer this question; Weather

 Well there are many reasons to be sure. As our friends and family are getting pummeled  with tornados & hurricanes again and again, Most of us look for answers. Here’s the secret;   THERE ARE NO EASY ANSWERS!! 

Remember the “Ice Storm” of 98″


    How about the “Heat Wave” in Pakistan in 2018?

    And of course “Hurricanes” Katrina, Maria, Everyday we turn on the news only to hear and see of a different natural re-occurring weather pattern affecting our planet. And sometimes you look around to see that it’s happening in your backyard. Scary isn’t it? Some things are the result of global warming, yet most weather patterns naturally reoccur over 100’s of years as part of the cycle of things.

In Costa Rica we get storms also and rain in the rainy season. You will read the news about landslides and blocked roads etc. Now here’s the thing. We can pretty much easily prepare for the worst.

The following is a list of the good and bad when it comes to weather in our area of Costa Rica:

  • No Hurricanes have touched Costa Rican soil in over 150 years. NONE!
  • Basically from December to April it does not rain in the Papagayo (Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, Ocatal, Playa Panama, etc) area along the beach.
  • It does rain in other parts of the country during all 12 months, Generally not with frequency in all areas.
  • As in any country, you do have to be aware of and respect high, fast flowing rivers in the wet season, including their banks.
  • It does not freeze anywhere in Costa Rica.  EVER!!!
  • We do get the odd strong earthquake. To be sure everything here is over built with concrete, block and rebar.
  • Yes it can rain hard, But as stated most buildings are concrete and ceramic.
  • There has never been a significant tsunami recorded in Costa Rica
  • Most volcanoes in Costa Rica are dormont. Yet anything active is a long distance from this area.

I’m Theo Veenstra, a full time professional realtor with REMAX Ocean Village in Playas del Coco C.R.   A Canadian and Costa Rican citizen with many years experience in Costa Rica.

Contact me at thveenstra@gmail.com and start the journey to the                       “Pura Vida Lifestyle”.

Sign up for my news letter here  www.letsbuycostarica.com and follow my Costa Rica Series to find out why you should make Costa Rica your next choice.


Insurance time for Costa Rica Cars


Real Estate in Costa Rica is a rewarding experience. Depending on your life style, family needs can include a golf cart, car, truck, boat or motorbike. At this time of year the new insurance rates are ready. Instituto Nacional de Seguros ( INS ) calculates rates somewhat the same way as property taxes are assessed according to the vehicles value. Payment is submitted, recorded and a receipt along with windshield sticker are issued. It’s called paying the Marchamo (Label) and is a requirement by law. Car insurance is available in several levels, starting of course with the required base rate. Payment must be received by Dec 31. or interest can apply. If your car is leased or has a loan, the finance company would require more then the base rate.

For Owners;    

Follow this calculator supplied by INSSimply type in your cars plate number (Placa), fill in the security protocol , then hit Consultar.  Next scroll down to the bottom and you will see the new base rate.   

  https://marchamo.inscr.com/Marchamo/Marchamo/frmConsultaMarchamo.aspx .

Where to Pay; 

All INS offices and the Bank of Costa Rica porcess  In addition,  local banks offer an online payment system. Check with your bank on how to do the procedure by online transfer. Remember at some point you will need to pick up the sticker.

Thinking of buying used;  

Car or golf cart, truck, etc?  Be wise and inquire that the Marchamo is paid up to date. If it hasn’t been paid, there would be a retro active payment plus interest. Through a lawyer there is a possibility to have that retro active charge removed, but again that can take months and there is no guarantee of success. Contact your Lawyer prior to payment of the vehicle, it’s easy to check. And can generally be negotiated in the agreed price. I will be adding a list of Lawyers on my website in the near future. 

Away Owners; Get in touch with your lawyer or property manager by Dec 31st to ensure the Marchamo has been paid.

Need Help?  Join my email list to receive insights to Lifestyle, Buying, Selling and Owning property in Playas del Coco, Hermosa, Playa Panama , Ocotal and the Popagayo Area.

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Owning and Living in Costa Rica

I am a full time Real Estate Sales Rep, with Remax Ocean Village. Our Remax team, has offices in Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa and Playa Panama, Costa Rica. We service the Gulf of Papagayo and area.