Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Saving the Earth Without Losing a Buck

By KEVIN BRASS DEC. 25, 2014 for the New York Times


Views of a tree house in the Finca Bellavista development in Costa Rica. Credit Matt Berglund 

PIEDRAS BLANCAS, Costa Rica — When he was growing up in Pennsylvania, Dave Angstadt’s favorite movie was “Swiss Family Robinson,” the story of a family living in a tree house on a deserted island.

Mr. Angstadt, 60, a business consultant and former professional basketball player, was thinking of the plucky Robinson clan recently, when he decided to invest $250,000 to build a 1,500-square-foot tree house in Finca Bellavista, a development in the jungle in southwest Costa Rica.

“Being self-sustainable, living in a tree, fending for yourself, figuring stuff out, always intrigued me,” said Mr. Angstadt, who plans to use the house as a personal retreat for friends and family.

Finca Bellavista, which is more than a mile from the nearest town and accessible only by unpaved roads, is one of several projects in Costa Rica targeting a new generation of buyers looking for an eco-friendly alternative to the second-home developments that line the coast.

While sales of second homes remain sluggish in the wake of the 2008 crash, eco-conscious buyers, primarily from North America, are playing an increasing role in the Costa Rica market, developers and sales agents say. And instead of $1 million beachfront homes, many of these buyers are interested in simpler, inland projects touting sustainable elements and with prices of $250,000 to $400,000. (Prices in Costa Rica are typically quoted in United States dollars.) 

Views of a tree house in the Finca Bellavista development in Costa Rica. Credit Matt Berglund 

“People are more humble,” said Richard Lemire, a developer in Manuel Antonio, a centrally located community on the country’s western shore. “Big homes are not so sexy anymore.”

Buyers in eco-centric projects typically base their purchase decision on a variety of factors, including the location and the investment potential, agents say. And not all of them are solely focused on saving the Earth.

“I wouldn’t say I am an environmentalist,” said Al Molnar, 47, who bought eight acres in a project in 2012.

Mr. Molnar, who owns a sports agency in Canada, spent $260,000 for the land in NatureWalk, a combination agriculture and residential development covering 1,200 acres east of the coastal town of Jacó, Costa Rica. A buyer must agree to allow 85 percent of the land to be used for crops such as vanilla, coffee, teak and pineapple; in return, the buyer receives the bulk of the revenue from the crops and the right to build a home on the remaining land.

Mr. Molnar primarily viewed the purchase as an investment, a way to diversify his portfolio. But he plans to build a home on the property, and he considers the sustainability aspects to be a bonus. “The fact that they weren’t destroying the land to develop it into something else,” he said. “It alleviated a little guilt about how things are being done in the world right now.”

Aware of buyers like Mr. Molnar, the developer of NatureWalk, the Canadian-based PRG Group, changed its marketing strategy. Instead of focusing on the environmental aspects, the developer now emphasizes the potential revenue, catering to what the company president, Tim Alexander, calls “economic environmentalism.”
Since beginning sales in 2011, PRG has sold more than 100 lots, with prices ranging from $55,000 to $100,000 for parcels of a quarter-acre to one and a quarter acres.

“It’s not a decision based on the eco-value,” Mr. Alexander said. “They look for both, but the investment comes first.”

Eco-developments also are benefiting from the growing group of buyers in North America concerned about the state of the world economy, local industry executives say.

Osa Mountain Village Resort, located in the mountains along the southern Pacific coast, is billed as “a sustainable, fully functional, food-producing resort community.” In addition to a secluded setting and enticing swimming pools, the resort offers residents a steady supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and other food items.

The availability of an independent food supply is a key component for many buyers, said the developer, Jim Gale. “Without the food production, we’d have 80 percent less sales,” he said. “The main thing is food security.”

Osa has sold more than 100 properties in the last four years, Mr. Gale said. Sixty of the 150 planned homes have been built, with prices ranging from $69,000 for a rustic 250-square-foot house to $259,000 for a 1,200-square-foot condo with full amenities.

In 2011, Dan Lutz, a chiropractor in Minnesota, paid about $125,000 in a pre-construction deal for a 1,300-square-foot apartment. He said he made the purchase because he was concerned that the United States was on an “unsustainable trajectory.”

“As far as I’m concerned, it just made sense to have a piece of real estate where you do have a guaranteed abundance of food, you have guaranteed abundance of water,” said Mr. Lutz, 44. “We had just went through a big recession, it was kind of scary. I thought I better have a Plan B.” For now, he uses the house on vacations, and loans it to family and friends.

In Finca Bellavista, the tree house development, the developers have sold 54 of the 96 available plots, totaling 100 acres, since 2006. Lots average about two acres and are typically priced from $40,000 to $80,000, depending on the location and accessibility.

Buyers purchase the land and the right to build a house in selected trees. At this point, 12 tree houses have been built, connected to the rest of the project by narrow trails, rope ladders and zip lines. Although amenities are few, there is a fiber optic connection to the base camp, as the developers call the headquarters, for owners who are not quite ready to completely discard civilization.

Mr. Angstadt’s custom-designed tree house will have a flushing toilet and a solar-heated hot water shower, in addition to a wide deck and extra high ceilings to accommodate his 6-foot-8 frame.

“I appreciate a good hot shower and I appreciate a flushed toilet,” said Mr. Angstadt, who hopes to start construction on his tree house in early 2015. “But I’m also quite happy out there getting muddy and washing off in the river.”

Read the full story in the New York Times HERE

Growing Vegetables for Asian Markets in Costa Rica

By – December 28, 2014 for The Costa Rica Star

Farmers and grocers in Costa Rica sometimes lament certain facts of free trade and globalization; to with: A significant portion of garlic, rice and even black beans, all staples of traditional cuisine in this country, are actually imported from China. Due to the agricultural economic background of Costa Rica, some may consider this to be a trade imbalance; however, some entrepreneurs are taking this situation in stride by growing vegetables traditionally used in Asian cuisine and exporting them to that region.

The following press release is from Naturewalk Farms, a rural business community in Turrubares, located near between the Central Valley and the Central Pacific Coast.

Sustainable Organic Asian Vegetable Production Expands in Naturewalk, Costa Rica

PRLog – Nov. 18, 2014 – JACO, Costa Rica — Over the last 8 months, Naturewalk completed a test growing program, involving 6 varieties of asian specialty vegetables. The results proved very successful with crop growth and yields meeting or exceeding expectation.

These vegetables have been traditionally grown in other parts of Central America and the Caribbean for the North American market. “This is the first large commercialization program of these specialty vegetables to take place in Costa Rica” says Tim Alexander, President of Naturewalk “we are pleased to be adding this strong agricultural component to our activities at Naturewalk. This is a real win for the area in terms of jobs, employment and economic stimulus and of course we are excited to be developing this program at Naturewalk”.

The first of 4,000 Chinese, Indian and Thai eggplants are due to be shipped the third week of November from the nurseries in Grecia. Over a 4 month cycle a total of 90,000 plants will be planted to meet demand for two containers per week shipped to U.S. east coast seaports due to beginning in February 2015. Other vegetable varieties include Thai Hot Pepper, Preeti, Bangana Lina, and Greengo Cucumber.

Participating in the program with technical support and seed stock are East-West Seed Company Limited with head offices in Nonthaburi , Thailand. East West Seed is one of Asia’s leading vegetable seed suppliers distributing high quality seeds to over 60 countries worldwide. East West is supporting Nature Walks program locally with on-the-ground technical expertise through its locally trained agricultural engineers.

Naturewalk Farms, a division of Naturewalk Brands grows a wide variety of tropical produce including Tiquisque, Nampi (Taro), Nami, Vanilla, Ginger Papaya and Organic Pineapple. The Farms, located in the Central Pacific, supply local markets as well as export to North America. Naturewalk is a fully master-planned community of 1200 acres in Turrubares Costa Rica. Owners in Naturewalk own fully serviced lots on which they can have their dream home. Owners further benefit from fully managed crops growing on their land, giving them an income. The master plan for Naturewalk includes a condo hotel, eco hotel, adventure center, equine center and town center with shopping facilities in addition to homes.

For further information visit www.costaricainvest.ie or call USA +1-202-697-9284 or Europe +353-1-272-4184

See the full story in The Costa Rica Star HERE

Monday, December 22, 2014

Community Rural Tourism Initiative


ICT : COMMUNITY RURAL TOURISM INITIATIVE
NATUREWALK BRANDS

Naturewalk is on the leading edge of community rural tourism projects in Costa Rica. Naturewalk through its locally based businesses, supports different local community and enterprise efforts, local business, employment, culture and education. Naturewalk is now the leading employer in the area.

Community Rural Tourism

cultura
“Tourist experiences
planned and sustainably integrated
to the rural environment and developed
by local organization for the benefit of the community.”


INTRODUCTION
Costa Rica has invested more than 50 years in rural development, as well as the rural communities have struggled more than 500 years in order to defend their identity and claim the right to development and equity. All these years of efforts are capitalized today into new initiatives for the endogenous enhancement of the local economies.  
Community Rural Tourism is one of the initiatives that, little by little, has represented an important means of development for those rural communities potentially capable of competing with other high quality attraction sites. The rural world is therefore kaleidoscopically unique as for assets, history, nature, talents, and hopes. This is the meaning of community rural tourism, an authentic tourist

product impossible to imitate, an important tool for the development of the communities and the enhancement of the Costa Rican identity.
Tourism is a dynamic sector that generates development. Specifically, Community Rural Tourism (TRC) oriented to promote tourist activities with local participation is a new segment that is constantly growing and presents very positive features, totally opposite to the well known problems caused by the development of traditional tourism.
In 2003, the creation of the Alliance of Organizations for the Enhancement of Community Rural Tourism integrated an informal place concerning the coordination efforts with organizations showing a recognized experience in the field: COOPRENA, ACTUAR, and Mesa Nacional Campesina supported by the Program of Small Donations of GEF, PNUD, and ACEPESA.  
The goal of this Alliance has been to enhance Community Rural Tourism (TRC) as one of the main tourist activities at a national level and to consolidate it as a tool to generate sustainable development with equity and a high participation of local investment.
The Alliance has planned to create conditions in the public-private environment that will promote the local investment and the development of a new and competitive tourist product, in order to transform TRC in a tool aimed at local sustainable development.
Therefore, there must be a strategy facilitating the consolidation of TRC as a tool of sustainable development for the communities with a tourist potential. This calls for the definition and promotion of a state policy promoting local investment and TRC sustainable development, as well as the enhancement of the local entrepreneurial capacity at a national and international level.
Some of the companies representing the offer of community rural tourism have more than 10 years of experience. Most of the initiatives are operated in an informal way, for it has been difficult to record them in the statistics of the sector. This is due to the way this product is created, starting from the effort and creativity of the Costa Rican people that live in the countryside.
However, thanks to the creation of groups as the Mesa Nacional Campesina and marketing groups as COOPRENA and ACTUAR, the creation of the Alliance for the Enhancement of the Community Rural Tourism and the support of the Costa Rica Tourism Board and ACEPESA, there has been great progress in the process of formalizing the operations of this entrepreneurial group, as well as an improvement in the records.
Given that the community rural tourism is mostly a complement to the agropecuary activity, it is difficult to estimate the employments generated directly or indirectly with traditional statistics. However, according to the information obtained by inspectors of the Costa Rica Tourism Board in  two visits made to companies part of the Alliance, it can be stated that about two individuals per house benefit from rural tourism income because of their jobs.
Records of the Alliance indicate that the income received per single working hour in community rural tourism is 50% higher than the average rural salary.
This information is quite interesting, considering that basically women take advantage of these jobs, although there is no information in relation to the exact gender composition.

Nevertheless, the potential value of community rural tourism as a development tool is not shown in these numbers. This kind of tourism allows the integration of natural resources, daily life in the rural communities and agropecuary activities in an attractive product for the national and international tourist market. Rural tourism is the perfect choice for the tourist that is interested in knowing and enjoying the life in the country side, such as: horse back riding, walks, agricultural activities, discovering alternative methods of production, fresh water fishing, village festivities, and fairs. All of this without leaving out other accessible possibilities in the area like adventurous tourism, nature, sun, beaches and sport activities.
Moreover, rural tourism provides visitors with a personalized contact. All services are run by the producers through organizations or directly, as a family business.
Unlike rural tourism offered by other countries, community rural tourism companies in Costa Rica need the participation of several families or even the entire community in order to offer a tourist product, due to their community dynamics and the relevance of activity.
The main difference between the rural tourism and community rural tourism is that the economic activity is planned by the community organizations and people that live in the communities are those who participate directly in the managing of efforts and its benefits.

CHARACTERISTICS

  • It integrates natural resources (attractions) and the daily life of the rural community.
  • As part of the tourist offer, it promotes and integrates sustainable practices.
  • The tourist experience is adapted to the rural lifestyle and dynamics, preserving “rurality” (showing originality, peculiarity, warm and comfortable environment and the authenticity of the rural part of the country).
  • It is based on management, participation and integration on a local level. (It enhances the local organization in which several families or even the entire community are involved).
  • It integrates the local population in this entrepreneurial activity and distributes equally benefits, by increasing and diversifying the income of the rural families.
  • It promotes the conservation of the land in hands of its inhabitants.

The Costa Rica Tourism Board in coordination with the Alliance of Organizations for the enhancement of the Community Rural Tourism has established some fundamental principles that must be guaranteed in community rural tourism development :
  • Environmental tourist products that promote a sustainable use of the ecosystems. This involves an evaluation of the impacts of the tourist activity over the natural environment and the establishment of corrective actions and good practices in order to avoid the endangerment of the ecosystems integrity.
  • Incorporation of environmental education aimed at the consolidation of environmental culture.
  • Considering community rural tourism as a whole interacting with other economic and social activities.
  • Priority to core businesses.
  • Pursuit of entrepreneurial integration aimed at facilitating the creation of marketing channels.
  • Promotion of the diversification and innovation of the offer in relation to the sustainable use of  natural and cultural attractions.
  • Priority to mechanisms that guarantee the equal distribution of the benefits generated by tourist activity at a local and regional level and the development of cultural values in the communities.
  • Protection and development of cultural values.
  • Promotion of women active participation.
  • Social integration of minorities, among them ethnic communities.
  • Integration and local concentration of tourist services.
  • Use of  local labour force, providing social security established by law.
  • Tourist product quality promotion through community training.
Rural tourism was born from the need to generate economic alternatives able to diversify the income of the country side families, that were used to a rural development model aimed at jeopardizing natural resources. For more than 20 years, this model has been fomenting the inequity and the deterioration of the link with the rural community. As a consequence, the development of civil society monopolized the ownership of the land, generating unemployment and emigration.
The Alliance of Organizations for the Enhancement of the Community Rural Tourism appears as a way to coordinate and integrate all the community actions in order to facilitate the development of community rural tourism as a tool of local growth.
The Alliance management has started working processes between the organizations of the Alliance and the public institutions oriented to enhance community rural tourism initiatives as well as local development initiatives.

EFFORTS

  • The opening of a negotiation process with the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) to:
    • Define and characterize community rural tourism as national tourist product.
    • Design a project that seeks international resources for community rural tourism enhancement.
    • Create a quality brand for community rural tourism.
    • Carry out a strategy for the enhancement of the upper segment of community rural tourism companies.
    • Create a promotion strategy for the integration of community rural tourism in the national and international market.
    • Incorporate rural tourism products in the promotion of the country’s image abroad.

  • The PNUD (United Nation’s Program for Development), besides being a part of the negotiation process with the State institutions, has financed a start up project to facilitate the incorporation of community rural tourism in the Costa Rica Tourism Board and create an international resources management project.
  • The Development Fund of Family Assignments (FODESAF) started a process to design and finance a Program of Rural Tourism with FODESAF funds, to enable poor families to use the tourist activity as a tool for their social improvement.

  • A community training and formation program in the field of tourism has been established in conjunction with the National Institute of Learning, adjusting the contents and methodology for the markets, characteristics and conditions of the community rural tourism.
  • Moreover, in conjunction with the INS (Insurance National Institute), a collective liability insurance policy has been created for the communities developing tourist products. Taking into account the conditions in which each family lives, they should  purchase their own policy, which happens to be very expensive and complicated. This is an essential requirement to be able to offer the product through travel agencies that operate in the country.
  • As for the process of formalization, negotiation channels must be established with the Ministry of Public Health, in order to facilitate the access of these families operation permits.

INFORMATION

  • Costa Rican Association of Community Rural Tourism (ACTUAR), phone numbers (506) 2248-9470, 2223-8509, Fax (506) 2223-8087, e-mail info@actuarcostarica.com or visit the website: www.actuarcostarica.com
  • Central American Association for the economy, health and environment ACEPESA, phone/fax (506) 2280-6327, e-mail earce@acepesa.org or visit the website: www.acepesa.org
  • COOPRENA network, phone numbers (506) 2232-7437, 2290-8646, 2290-8524, 2290-8651, Fax (506) 2290-8667, e-mail cooprena@racsa.co.cr or visit the website:www.turismoruralcr.com
  • Program of the United Nations for Development, phone numbers (506) 2296-1544, 2296-1736, Fax (506) 2296-1545, e-mail pequenas.donaciones.cr@undp.org or visit the website:www.pequenasdonacionescr.org


Friday, December 19, 2014

Save The Americans!


Save the Americans was created by the animals of Costa Rica to help save overworked Americans. Forced to work long hours in stressful environments, increasingly estranged from their natural habitat, the American worker grows more endangered every day. As resident animals of Costa Rica, we happily offer our country as sanctuary. If you or someone you know is endangered, we can help.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hola Vanilla

Hola Vanilla packaged by Hola Granola is now available at good stores and in many hotels across Costa Rica.

This vanilla is organically grown in Naturewalk and is delicious:



Ginger in Permalife Farms Naturewalk 3

Things certainly grow quickly in Costa Rica. This ginger was planted just 10 weeks ago:



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Triple Intercrop in Naturewalk

One of the most interesting intercroppings in Permalife Farms Naturewalk is the combination of teak, ginger and papaya.The teak provides shade for the ginger and papaya, and the ginger and papaya provide regular crops and returns.

This intercrop has been pioneered by Naturewalk and is generating significant interest amongst agricultural colleges, universities and farming organisations.







To find out more about Naturewalk which offers the opportunity to have a home on a magnificent lot with fully managed crops giving you an income from your land, call  USA +1-202-697-9284 or Europe +353-1-272-4184 or e mail info@costaricainvest.ie

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Healing Powers of Moringa


moringatrees661.jpg
A plantation of young moringa trees in Congo. (Chris Kilham)

In a remote valley of Congo, on a farm with splendid views of lush green mountains, I stand amidst a plantation of young moringa trees. The green leaves glisten in the African sun, the seed pods hang in curls. I pull a tender young leaf and chew on it, enjoying the fresh, pleasing taste. The Belgian couple growing this crop plans to cash in on an up-and-coming trend and their timing appears to be just right.

Over the past few years, a botanical new to the U.S. and European markets has been making impressive gains in popularity, due to its broad traditional benefits and emerging supportive science. That plant, moringa oleifera, is native to northern India, Pakistan, the Himalayan region, Africa and Arabia, but is now cultivated more widely throughout the tropics. The young plantation I have visited in Congo is one such cultivation project.

Also known as drumstick tree or horseradish tree, moringa trees grow quickly, reaching a height of between 15 and 30 feet within just a few years. The leaves, fruit flowers and immature pods of the tree are eaten as nutritious foods. The leaves in particular are consumed either raw in salads, tossed into blender drinks, or steamed like spinach. Rich in protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and calcium, the leaves make an excellent green vegetable, and are pleasing in flavor.

But beyond the flavor and nutrition, moringa offers healing benefits. Virtually all parts of the plant are used to treat inflammation, infectious disorders, and various problems of the cardiovascular and digestive organs, while improving liver function and enhancing milk flow in nursing mothers. The uses of moringa are well documented in both the Ayurvedic and Unani systems of traditional medicine, among the most ancient healing systems in the world.

Moringa is rich in a variety of health-enhancing compounds, including moringine, moringinine, the potent antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and various polyphenols. The leaves seem to be getting the most market attention, notably for their use in reducing high blood pressure, eliminating water weight, and lowering cholesterol.

Studies show that moringa leaves possess anti-tumor and anti-cancer activities, due in part to a compound called niaziminin. Preliminary experimentation also shows activity against the Epstein-Barr virus. Compounds in the leaf appear to help regulate thyroid function, especially in cases of over-active thyroid. Further research points to anti-viral activity in cases of Herpes simplex 1. 

Now that moringa is emerging as a popular supplement for health enhancement, the science on this plant is accelerating. The glucose-modifying, anti-diabetic effects of moringa may prove of great use amidst a virtual epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. The liver-protective activities of the leaf and its extracts could make it a staple component of bitters formulas and various cleansing preparations. And ongoing work on the anti-cancer properties of moringa may at some point earn this plant a role in chemotherapy.

In the traditional medicinal systems of many cultures, plants with long uses and benefits remain to be discovered. Moringa oleifera, unknown in the market just ten years ago, is surging into greater popularity due to its multiple health benefits and nutritious value as a food. Also known colloquially as “miracle tree,” moringa is a valuable plant medicine, and deserves a place in the home pharmacy. 


Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at MedicineHunter.com.

Moringa is just one of the crops growing in Naturewalk and you can see more about the Naturewalk Moringa plantings here

Sustainable Organic Asian Vegetable Production Expands in Naturewalk

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fast water paddling close to Naturewalk

There are some very fast flowing rivers close to Naturewalk.

Experts can book these rivers for canoeing and kayaking through the Naturewalk Sports Adventure Center.

Within Naturewalk there are more sedate rivers for those wishing to try canoeing, kayaking, rafting and tubing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ATV Accessories & Equipment

For your ATV adventures in Naturewalk there is a full range of accessories and equipment available through the Naturewalk Sport Adventure Center in Jaco:




Saturday, November 1, 2014

Win A Trip to Naturewalk


Rock 105.3 and Naturewalk have teamed up to offer one lucky listener a fantastic trip to Naturewalk, Costa Rica.    Click here to read more

Friday, October 31, 2014

ATV Adventures in Naturewalk

ATV Tours of Naturewalk, available through the Naturewalk Adventure Center

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Naturewalk receives international news coverage

See more about Naturewalk in the Fall Edition of Unique Homes Magazine.

You can read the full magazine here and read about Naturewalk on page 42.




Monday, October 20, 2014

Teak logs become Teak Furniture

Some pictures of teak logs being milled and manufactured into artisan teak furniture at the Naturewalk Teak Mill and Craft Centre in the Pavona Craft Village in Naturewalk:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ginger in Naturewalk 3

Ginger growing in Permalife Farms, Naturewalk 3.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pineapple progress in Permalife Farms, Naturewalk 3

The pineapple in Naturewalk 3 is making great progress. The smaller plant between the rows of pineapple is papaya. You can see the original planting of the pineapple here

Hola Granola

Hola Granola is "probably the most delicious Granola in the world". Made with ingredients from Naturewalk and the surrounding areas, it is available through lots of good retail outlets in Costa Rica, including at the airport. It is also the Granola of choice in many top class hotels throughout Costa Rica.



Why not pick some up during your next visit to Costa Rica:







Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pineapple in Naturewalk

Organic pineapple planted close to the site of the eco-hotel in Naturewalk 3:




Monday, October 6, 2014

Health Insurance in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America and costs are very low in comparison to the US (typically about 1/3 to 1/5 of US health care costs). Health insurance is available in Costa Rica through the Government Medical Plan Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS and commonly known as CAJA) which provides access to and medical care from more than 30 hospitals and over 250 clinics throughout the country,and INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros) which provides access to more than 200 affiliated doctors, hospitals, labs, and pharmacies in the private sector.

INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros)

INS offers medical insurance up to a limit of about $17,500 per year, and it does not cover pre-existing conditions or check ups. Accidental dental, eye and cosmetic treatement are only covered if non elective and 
suffered through an accident. Costs vary with age and sex. This plan pays 70% of prescription drugs, examinations, doctor visits, hospitalization and treatment and 100% of surgeons’ and anesthetists’ fees. The patient is free to choose the doctor. Premiums for men up to age 59 are $550 and rising to $1000 for men between ages 60 and 75. Dependants under 19 are approximately $250 per year. Women aged 19 to 59 would pay about $900 and between 60 and 75 $1,300.

Whilst $17,500 per year is a low upper limit, the cost of healthcare in Costa Rica is relatively low.

It should be noted that many international health care policies are available which cover medical insurance in Costa Rica and in some cases these policies have direct payment agreements with Costa Rica hospitals.


CCSS

An alternative to the INS plan is the CCSS (aka CAJA) plan. (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) Most Costa Ricans have this government medical plan and CCSS is  is in charge of most of the nation's public
health sector. All employees must have CCSS membership paid by their employer and the plan covers pre-existing conditions, doctor visits, prescription drugs, examinations, hospitalization, dental and eyes. There is no limit on annual amounts paid out by the plan. A doctor and clinic is assigned to the patient. Lines and the processes can be long, but you will get high quality medical treatment and care.

Membership of CCSS is required for all permanent residents of Costa Rica and membership typically costs about $60 per month. CCSS membership includes a compulsory pension fund payment for those under 55 years of age.



Friday, October 3, 2014

Tim Ryan Hiking Adventures

Tim Ryan offers hiking adventures to cater for all abilities through the Naturewalk Adventure Center.

From 1/2 day hikes through to 3 day hikes staying in the wilderness, there is an adventure for everybody.

Bookings can be made through the Naturewalk Adventure Center. Call Costa Rica Invest on
USA +1-866-990-1123 (toll free) or Europe +353-1-272-4184 or e mail us at 
adventure@costaricainvest.ie to find out more:


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Squatters

There is extensive internet coverage about squatters in Costa Rica and squatters rights.

Squatters rights exist worldwide and in Costa Rica squatters rights were incorporated into law to protect families who had lived on and improved lands in some cases for generations, but the lands were technically owned by large landowners who were not farming the land.

When the land registry was brought into being, many of these small farmers were not aware that they should register their interest in the land which they farmed, and in some cases unscrupulous large landowners could register the small landowners land as theirs. Squatters rights protected these small farmers.

Now squatters are people who move onto a piece of property which they do not own, live there for at least a year and who improve the property by working the land and/or constructing a dwelling. Squatters then may have a legal right to live there since they may have acquired a “right of possession”.

Written into the Civil Code of Costa Rica are many sections that deal with the rights of possession. Such clauses tend to favor the small, poor land-holder by upholding de facto "squatters rights".

Technically, squatters can only attempt to gain legal rights to a non-maritime property by peacefully occupying non-cultivated, unimproved agrarian land over an extended period of time. The difficulty of maintaining one's rights over those of the squatters is due to the ambiguous nature of the law and loose legal definitions of "non-cultivated" or "unimproved" land. It can be equally difficult to establish the duration of the squatter occupation, which is a crucial piece of evidence in the eviction process. According to the law, in case of doubt, "good faith" is presumed on the side of the squatters.

There are legal steps that can be taken to rid one's land of squatters. Procedurally, the eviction process is divided into three phases. 


Eviction during the First Three Months of Occupation

The first phase is the eviction of squatters during the first three months of occupation. Early discovery is vital, as during this period the landowner does not need to go to court. The landowner need only alert the local police, who are then obliged to evict the squatters. The problem is  that it can be extremely difficult to get the police to carry out their duty. If the landowner is not in the country eviction is difficult to verify. Even though eviction within the first three months is in principle a straightforward procedure early discovery can be difficult if the landowner lives outside of Costa Rica.


Eviction During the Period of Three Months to One Year of Occupation

The second phase is after the initial three months of occupation but before one year. If squatters are

"allowed" to squat on property for this duration of time the landowner must go to the courts and start the process of "administrative eviction". 


Occupation for more than one year

According to the law, squatters have then achieved a "legal assumption," and the owners must go through an ordinary lawsuit to evict them. However for the court to grant the property rights to squatters, they must prove that they have been on the land "uninterrupted," "non-challenged" and "peacefully" for ten years.


There are no foolproof, preventive measures for eliminating the problem of squatters on land owned in absentia but there are a few preventative measures that can be taken:
  1. The property should not appear abandoned and signs should be posted with the owner's name. 
  2. Hire a caretaker for the property. In some cases if has been known for the the caretaker to squat on the land that he is paid to protect. The easiest way to avoid this is to register the caretaker as an employee. This entails paying minimum wage and social security. The landowner should also demand signed receipts from the caretaker as proof of payment. Under law an employee hired to guard a property cannot become a squatter
Problems with squatters tend to occur on large remote properties. Well maintained, secured and care-taken properties do not encounter these problems.



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Title and Property Ownership in Costa Rica


The Costa Rica constitution allows non Costa Ricans have all the same land and property ownership rights as a Costa Rica citizen (the only exception to this are 4 and 5 below). Non Costa Ricans can own and hold land in their own name without the need for local partners or complex corporate structures.

This separates Costa Rica from many of its neighbouring countries where local partners and complex legal and corporate structures are required to own land and real estate.

Broadly land is divided into the five types below:


1. Titled Lands

The vast majority of land in Costa Rica is titled. There is a National Public registry website where you or your lawyer can check the title of property and ensure it is clean and without mortgages or liens.


2. Fifty-Meter Zone

From the high tide mark to 50 meters inland is public property in Costa Rica. This land cannot be developed and no permanent structure can be placed on the land. However, this land can be landscaped and some temporary structures are permitted.

This fifty meter zone was implemented to preserve the beaches and ocean-front as public property for the benefit of all.



3. Titled ocean front property to the 50 meter line.


In the mid 1970's owners of ocean front land in Costa Rica were asked to register their land with the local and national public registry offices. Those owners that registered their land got full title for their land to the fifty meter line (mentioned at 1 above). Only 15% of ocean front land on the coast line was registered at this time and this is prime ocean front property.


4. Municipal lease land - 150-meter zone.
The majority of ocean front land from the 50 meter zone to a distance 150 meters further inwards is owned by the local municipality.

This land can only be leased from the municipality in the form of a concession. Non Costa Rican's may only lease this land in partnership with a local Costa Rica partner, who must own more than 50% of the company entering into the lease agreement. It is not allowed for non Costa Ricans to lease this land personally.

This concession property usually has restrictions on development and zoning of the land.

This 50m zone exists to preserve public access to the public beaches.



5. Frontiers


Only Costa Rican citizens can purchase land within two kilometres of the national frontiers or borders.


This is a very quick introduction to title and property ownership in Costa Rica and when buying real estate or land in Costa Rica it is important to have the title checked by your legal representative


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Papaya in Naturewalk

There are lots of different crops growing in Naturewalk.

Many of these crops are intercropped with one crop assisting the others growth e.g. teak and vanilla, papaya and ginger, teak and tiquisque.

Here you can see some pictures of papaya being intercropped with teak in Permalife Farms, Naturewalk 3:


Different crops produce different returns and different rates of return. In Naturewalk owners have a unique opportunity to have a home in paradise, with the added advantage of an income from fully managed crops growing on their land. 

To find out more about Naturewalk and to see if it might be a fit for you, just drop us an e mail at info@costaricainvest.ie or give us a call onUSA +1-866-990-1123 (toll free) or Europe +353-1-272-4184


Friday, September 19, 2014

Property Tax in Costa Rica

Property taxes in Costa Rica are low in comparison to most other jurisdictions.

Property tax in Costa Rica is 0.25% of the registered value of the property.
There is an additional luxury property tax in Costa Rica.

Luxury home tax
. This tax is only levied on a homes value and according to the following sliding scale. 


Home value Tax
Less than ₡117.000.000 ($234,000) Exempt
₡117.000.000 - ₡291.000.000 ($234,000 - $582,000) 0.25%
₡291.000.000,00 - ₡584.000.000 ($582,000 - $1,168,000) 0.30%
₡584.000.000,00 - ₡875.000.000 ($1,168,000 - $1,750,000) 0.35%
₡875.000.000,00 - ₡1.167.000.000 ($1,750,000 - $2,334,000) 0.40%
₡1.167.000.000,00 - ₡1.458.000.000 ($2,334,000 - $2,916,000) 0.45%
₡1.458.000.000,00 - ₡1.752.000.000 ($2,916,000 - $3,504,000) 0.50%
Over ₡1.752.000.000 ($3,504,000) 0.55%

Not all homes in Costa Rica are subject to the luxury property tax and this should be checked with your lawyer as part of the due diligence process

Mosquitoes and bugs in Costa Rica

Clients often ask about mosquitoes and bugs in Costa Rica and if they are prevalent.

Costa Rica is a natural environment and there are both mosquitoes and other bugs. Mosquitoes are more prevalent on the hotter and more humid Caribbean Coast than on the Pacific Coast or in the Central Valley.

By comparison mosquitoes are much more prevalent in Florida than in Costa Rica than the mosquitoes that you might encounter in Florida.

You may also encounter some larger and unusual bugs in Costa Rica, but this is a reflection of Costa Rica's natural, green and well preserved environment.

Bars on Windows

One of things which clients frequently notice when they first arrive in Costa Rica are the bars on the windows of homes and shops.



The assumption is often that crime rates must be very high.

This is not the case. Serious crime is rare and crime rates are much lower than in the USA by comparison. But crime does happen. Burglary, theft and other opportunistic crimes are the main crimes in Costa Rica.

So why the bars?

Well there are a number of reasons:


Architectural: bars on windows are an architectural feature of many older homes in Costa Rica and are a traditional home feature. Spanish colonial architectural home designs have included bars for centuries. The bars are made to order and many designs are very ornate and beautiful.




Economical crime deterrent: monitored alarms are relatively expensive and response times are slow in Costa Rica. and the window bars are a widely available economical alternative.



So don't be put off by bars on windows in Costa Rica.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Planting Pineapple

Pineapple planting continues in Naturewalk 3:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Naturewalk Adventure Center Jaco

The Naturewalk Adventure Center Shop in Jaco is now open. As well as giving access to all the Naturewalk Adventure Activities (Horse Riding, Canoeing, Kayaking, Rafting, ATV tours, Hiking) it also sells UM Motorcycles and here you can see just some of the motorcycle inventory.












Planting pineapple

Pineapple planting in Naturewalk 3 close to the Adventure Center: