Friday, September 21, 2007

Canadian Dollar on Par With American Dollar

For the first time in 31 years the Canadian dollar briefly reached parity with the American dollar on Thursday September 20.

Over the past year the Canadian dollar has steadily been gaining strength on the international market compared to the American dollar.

Steve Butler a currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto was recently quoted saying "we'll see Canada continue to strengthen."

This was further supported by Martin Lefebvre, a senior economist at Desjardins Securities, who said "Once parity is achieved, there is nothing stopping the loonie,".

This is fantastic news for Canadians purchasing or looking to purchase property abroad.

As the value of most properties are stated in American dollars, this means that for Canadians it is now cheaper to purchase the US Dollar. Not only does this mean that Canadians in essence will be paying less for property than 9 months ago. It also means that if the mortgage is in another country such as Costa Rica, the monthly payments are now also less.

This is really good news for the Canadians who are looking to invest in real estate here in Costa Rica. Your dollar is now worth more! Come on down and see the country and while here take a look at some of the fantastic properties we have listed.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Obtaining a Costa Rican Driver's License

Recently I had the opportunity to help a friend obtain a Costa Rican driver's license. With the departments recent move to new facilities in La Uruca, the process was very quick and efficient.

There are only 4 things you will need:

1) A form filled out by a doctor. All doctors have this form and if you don't have a preferred doctor, there are doctors available just outside the offices.

2) You will need photo copies of 2 pages of your passport, (photo page and entry stamp page). This proves you have been in the country for less than 90 days.

3) Just before you enter the building, you will notice a BCR trailer, here you will need to pay the registration fee (about 4,000 colones)

4) With these documents in hand go to the second floor where they will be reviewed and stamped.

5) Now you go to the first floor for the information to be input into the computer system, photo taken and a digital scan of your finger print taken. Wait 5 minutes and you have your new license.

I highly recommend obtaining this license for anyone who visits on a regular basis or people who are intending and extended stay.

The entire process took less than 1 hour.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Huge Development in Guanacaste

It has recently been announced that there is going to be a huge billion dollar development in Northern Guanacaste.

Some of the projects included in this development will be a Ritz Carlton hotel, a smaller boutique hotel, an 18 hole golf course, a 200 slip marina, an equestrian center and up to 800 single family homes.

One of the unique features of this development is that it will include a desalinization plant. This will not only insure water for this development and not draw on the existing water supplies.

This is another example of the real estate boom in Costa Rica.

The growth in the real estate market is not limited to the Guanacaste area. If you are familiar with our web site, you will notice that there are several developments in the Central Pacific as well as the Central Valley. This is great for anyone interested in purchasing as there are a variety options with a corresponding variety of prices.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Obtaining a Costa Rican Driver's License

I recently had the opportunity to help a friend get a Costa Rican driver's license. With the recent move to La Uruca it is really easy and quick.

Remember if you are here for longer than 90 days, your foreign driver's license is not considered to be be valid. If you are a frequent visitor or someone who spends considerable amounts of time here, it may be to your advantage to obtain a local driver's license.

It really isn't that difficult to get and with everything in order proceeds quickly.

You will need photocopies of 2 pages from your passport. The first is the page with your photo and then the page with your entry stamp.

Next a document for a doctor. This can be obtained from any doctor in Costa Rica or if you don't know one, there are doctors set up to just do this examination near the La Uruca offices. It takes about 10 minutes and costs about 6,000 colones.

As you approach the entrance to the building you will see a branch of the Banco of Costa Rica. Here you will have to the 4,000 colone registration fee.

With these documents and receipt the guard will allow you to enter the building. Proceed to the second floor where your documents will be reviewed and stamped. Then back to the main floor for your information to be entered into the computer system and have your photo and a finger print (digital scan) entered. After about 3 minutes you will have your new license.

This may seem like a lengthy process but it only took about an hour.

I would recommend that anyone who travels here frequently or is planning a longer stay obtain a local driver's license. Besides having a piece of Costa Rican ID, imagine the expression on the face of someone back home when you present a Costa Rican driver's license as ID.


Getting a Driver's License in Costa Rica

Recently I had the opportunity to help a friend obtain a Costa Rican driver's license. The issuing office has recently moved to La Uruca, it is now much easier, convenient and less time consuming.

Remember that if you are visiting here longer than 90 days your foreign license is not considered to be valid. So if you are a frequent visitor or someone intending to stay for a period of time I would suggest obtaining a Costa Rica driver's license. It really is easy to obtain.

you will need a photocopy of 2 pages of your passport. First the photo page and then the page with your entry stamp (proof that you have been here less than 90 days).

Antoher document needed is a medical certificate. This can be obtained from any doctor or if you choose, there are doctors near the La Uruca office that will give you a quick exam and issue the needed document (cost about 6,000 colones).

Just before you enter the building, there is a Banco of Costa Rica, set up in a trailer, whre you will need to pay the 4,000 colones registration fee.

With all of these documents and the receipt from the Banco, the guard will let you enter the building. Go up to the second floor where your documents will be looked over and stamped. Then back to the main floor where your information will be entered into the computer system, your photo and finger print (digital scan) taken and then in about 3 minutes you will have your new driver's license.

We went in the afternoon and everything from the doctor's exam - to photocopying - to obtaining the license took about 1 hour.

Whether you think it is needed or not, a Costa Rican driver's license and passport will make things much easier. Besides, it can be used back home in the United States or Canada. Imagine the look on the face of a police office at home when you show your Costa Rican driver's license.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Beautiful Plants - Orchids

One of the most beautiful and sought after flowers throughout the world is the orchid. Whether in a corsage, a floral arrangement or a single stem in a vase, orchids are in just about every florist shop. So what does this have to do with Costa Rica?

Simple, orchids are the largest plant family in Costa Rica. The orchid is also the national flower of Costa Rica.

It is hard to say exactly how many types of orchids exist in Costa Rica though between 1,300 and 1,400 species have been identified. Many of the cultivated species are exhibited yearly in San Jose during March and can be bought in many stores to grow in your homes. Some vendors along many streets also sell a variety of these beautiful flowers. If you are traveling back from the Pacific Coast as you pass through Atenas you may see some orchids for sale in front of one of the houses. These are priced near what nurseries charge for orchids, though there seem to be more of a choice at this house. With many varieties the flowers last for weeks, while some flowers only last 1 day.

Some interesting facts about orchids:

  1. One type of orchid fruit is regularly eaten by humans, yes it’s true, VANILLA! Mexico’s Emperor Montezuma gave a taste to Cortez who introduced it in Europe. It quickly became the ‘in’ flavoring for European royalty.

  2. Vanilla is the second most labor intensive food crop in the world after saffron.

  3. There is a special fungus what is essential a part of the life cycle of the orchid. Without this fungus the seed cannot grow.

  4. When studying orchids, either in nature or through written material you will notice that several varieties seem to be growing on trees. But orchids are not parasitic. They are air plants that simply attach themselves to a tree’s bark.

  5. Over 50 orchid species have been found growing in a single tree!

When you are in the forests and come across an orchid, by all means take several photos. But leave the plant where it is. Many people have taken plants from an area and try to grow them in gardens through out the country. This will cause most of these orchids to die as they are very sensitive to the environment and subtle changes may be enough to kill the plant, thus depleting the country and many other people from viewing these amazing looking flowers. This has been such a problem that it is now illegal to take orchids out of their natural environment.

So before taking a walk in the forests, do some research on orchids and see how many you can find. They really are everywhere.