Saturday, August 23, 2014

There’s Something In The Air In Costa Rica’s Lake Region…

Lake Arenal
After researching Costa Rica in the pages of International Living and seeing the country featured in real estate TV shows, Victoria, 67, and Larry Torley, 65, were ready to check it out for themselves.
And it didn’t take long for them to find a new home.
“On that trip we checked out Jaco,” says Victoria, referring to a popular Central Pacific coast resort town. “But the beach areas are too hot and humid. So we drove up here to Arenal on a Saturday morning. By 5 p.m. we had made an offer on a house.”
Though the couple withdrew that original offer when they found a better deal later in the trip, they knew that the Arenal region, with its centerpiece 33-square-mile lake, was for them. Just three hours from the capital San Jose, this area is becoming increasingly popular with retirees and other expats for the same reasons that drew the Torleys.
“I’m so happy here. The green hills, the blue lake, the great climate—no AC needed…it really is perfect,” says Torley. “When we came here that was the end.”
The couple, from the northeastern United States, moved down in March 2012 and took up residence in their 11-acre property, complete with 20 chickens that provide fresh eggs and grazing cattle (their neighbor’s). Their house is 1,200 square feet. But they spend a lot of time enjoying the lake view and year-round, spring-like climate from their 700-square-foot outdoor space.
“Our furniture is made from trees we had on the property that had fallen down. It would have been three to four times more expensive to have pieces like these made in the U.S.,” says Victoria.
And they’ve saved in other ways. By shopping for fresh produce and avoiding imported American foods, they save on groceries. And medical and dental care has been high-quality and low-cost. An MRI at a private clinic in the large city of Liberia about two hours away was $180. And some upcoming dental work that would have cost $55,000 is going to be just $14,000 with their Costa Rican dentist.
Lake Arenal
The green hills, blue lake and ideal climate all add to the appeal of the Arenal region in Costa Rica.
They’ve also found a supportive and active expat community. Victoria founded the Arenal Gardeners soon after arriving.
“I’ve always gardened. But when I moved here I was totally ignorant about what to do. So I started a club. We gather and share information. We have over 100 people. If they all show up for a meeting…God help us,” says Victoria, laughing. “We have coffee, cacao, Surinam cherries, orchids—you can find them by the side of the road—passionflower vines, poinsettias, heliconias… With 11 acres you have room for anything you want to grow.
“Aside from the gardening club, the couple is active in the twice a week community breakfasts, book club, and other groups. And Larry is starting to sail on the lake, a favorite activity from childhood he’s taken up again.
“There’s something in the air in Arenal. The people who move here are inquisitive…more open…more vibrant,” explains Victoria. “I am more active here than I ever was in the U.S. I have a big circle of friends. And I don’t think it’s just because we’re retired.”


“Terry” of Lake Arenal, Costa Rica, died of cancer at Kathy’s Hospice in West Bend Wisconsin.
Terry attended Antilles School, Admiral Farragut Academy and Colegio San Justo. He was a life- long realtor and Appointed Commissioner of Real Estate, Government of the United States Virgin Islands,
National Director, National Association of Realtors
President, Virgin Islands Territorial Board of Realtors
President, St. Thomas – St. John Board of Realtors
Member, National Association of License Law Officials
Member, National Association of Farm and Land Brokers
Member, Institute of Real Estate Management
Member, International Real Estate Federation
Candidate for MAI, American Appraisal Institute
Senior Member, National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers
Designated Appraiser, Chase Manhattan Bank, Barclays Bank, Bank of America
Designated Appraiser, U.S. Government, Veterans Administration, Federal Housing
Member, National Association of Real Estate Appraisers
Member, Caribbean Real Estate Federation
Real Estate Instructor, University of the Virgin Islands
Terry established real estate companies in St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, the Dominican Republic, St. Barths and Costa Rica. He sold properties to many local Virgin Islanders and several major properties including: International Plaza, Palm Passage, Botany Bay, the land where Sugar Bay is located as well as the Cormorant Hotel, St. Croix and Gouverneur Bay in St. Barths.

List of Clients Served:
And Many More
Terry was a Certified Appraiser, Pilot, Builder, Developer, Broker, Former National Director of the National Association of Realtors, and former Real Estate Commissioner for the Government of the United States Virgin Islands.
Terry was a long time contributor to the Catholic Orphanage in Haiti and he donated many items to the museum in St. Barths.

His creation of Moran Real Estate on Lake Arenal was one of his greatest accomplishments and a realized dream.The lakeside office in Arenal will remain as the largest and most active real estate in the area, in his memory.

"Heaven is always and forever around us, and no soul remembered is ever really gone." - Mitch Albom

Friday, February 28, 2014

How to buy a Holiday Home in Costa Rica (or anywhere else!) without the Headaches

How to buy a Holiday Home in Costa Rica (or anywhere else!) without the Headaches
So maybe you have fallen in love with Costa Rica’s magnificent Lake Arenal, its beautiful beaches and incredible opportunities to see wildlife such as turtles in their natural habitat (as Rough Guides state, "turtle-watching is now one of the more popular activities in ecotourism-friendly Costa Rica"). Throw in the amazing weather, and maybe you've decided that you would like to buy your dream holiday home here. Of course, buying a holiday home or even a new home abroad can be a daunting task. Finding an ideal property within a particular budget can sometimes be tricky and even if you do find what you are looking for there are many expenses and regulations to navigate. Here are some tips on how to buy your ideal property overseas without the headaches. Although some of the information is specific to Costa Rica much of this advice is still indispensable no matter where in the world you are looking for property.
Think about what you really want
A lot of people searching for a property abroad waste a lot of time because they are unsure about what exactly it is they want. The best advice is therefore to think long and hard about exactly what it is that you are after. It might sound a bit contrived but it is worth being a bit academic about this and writing down a list of basic questions on a piece of paper and then writing down an answer for each. Such questions should include:
  • Is it important for me to be close to a beach or a lake or mountains or am I willing to compromise?
  • Do I want to be in the city, a small town or in the middle of the countryside?
  • How close do I want to be to amenities such as shops and restaurants?
  • Is it going to be practically important to be reasonably near to an airport? Will I want to visit my property abroad for long weekends, which would make proximity to a convenient airport a must?
  • How much space do I want in my property abroad? Will I be inviting family and friends over and will I therefore need a property with extra bedrooms and reasonable space for entertaining?
Is buying off-plan an option for you?
There are also options other than buying a conventional property. For example, you could consider buying a property that has not yet been finished, otherwise known as buying off-plan. This can be potentially lucrative if you choose to eventually sell the completed property on at a higher value. There are risks involved, however. For example, there have been cases of uncompleted properties never being finished in some countries because the developer runs into problems or cannot fund their completion. It can also sometimes be difficult to accurately estimate the value of a property before it is actually finished. So although the developer might tell you one thing about the property’s value you should not necessary take it as fact.
Be realistic about your budget
The next piece of advice is to set a realistic budget and do as much Internet-based research as possible before diving in and booking a plane to visit properties. There is nothing worse than visiting properties and falling in love with them and then feeling frustrated and disappointed when your modest offers are rejected. It is advisable to get real about what your money can get you as early on as possible to avoid disappointment and wasting your own time. Also, bear in mind that there will be other expenses on top of the cost of an actual property, such as legal fees and taxes. Some of these can be unexpected. For example, in the UK Taxes can sometimes be chargeable for rented overseas properties. Did you know that if you advertise your property in the UK to rent it out when you’re not using it, then you could be liable to pay certain taxes to the UK government? According to the UK tax department, "If UK tax is due on rental income from an overseas property, you can deduct certain expenses and allowances in the same way as you can from income from UK property." Therefore either be committed to in depth research to calculate what the overall expense of owning an overseas property could be or hire a solicitor or attorney to give you advice on how to figure this out. Remember that there are also costs associated with transferring large sums of money abroad when it comes to paying for your property or paying the fees associated with buying the property and it is worth looking into the best options in terms of money transfer services. Not all providers will be appropriate as, as explain, “some providers don’t cover certain South American countries, while others don’t offer same day transfers – if a provider cannot accommodate your needs you can exclude them before looking at the price”.
Bring in the professionals
Don’t cut corners when it comes to investing in the best professional help that a country has to offer. If English is not the first language in the country where you wish to purchase a property (of course, in Costa Rica our working language is Spanish) then invest in reputable bilingual estate agents and lawyers. Make sure that you make proper enquiries into the history and fees beforehand. Make sure you also quiz your lawyer about all the things that need to be taken care of when making a purchase. For example, is it necessary to make a will in the country where you are buying a property as well as your own country?
Some things to bear in mind regarding Costa Rica
Of course, every country has its specific quirks when it comes to buying property and Costa Rica is no different. For example, you should do a search of any property that you are potentially interested in through a computer system known as Folio Real. A title search through the Folio Real program will tell you a lot about a property’s background- for example the history of who has owned the property in the past, its boundaries and any mortgages associated with the property. One of the first questions that you should also ask about a property is whether it is derechos de ocupación- meaning a property to which you have occupation rights- or derecho de propiedad, which gives you full ownership rights. Be warned that if you buy a property with just derechos de ocupación then the land has not been registered and you will have to undergo a lengthy process to register it. It is also worth researching whether the property is subject to a concession. A concession is similar to what one might refer to as a lease in the US or Canada or the UK, and refers to the period of time the government will allow a property to be used for a particular purpose.

Emma Crosby

Saturday, February 22, 2014

These 5 Countries Provide The Best Health Care In The World

4. Costa Rica’s annual Global Retirement Index reports the best and most affordable health care in the world.
The Health Care category in the Index considers the cost of care and the quality. Also considered are the number of people per doctor, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people, the percentage of the population with access to safe water, the infant mortality rate, life expectancy, and public-health expenditure as a percentage of a country’s GDP.
Costa Rica’s excellent and affordable health care is largely the result of government investment in the health sector, plus an atmosphere of political stability. Costa Rica comes in fourth in the health care category of the annualGlobal Retirement Index 2014. By almost any standard, Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America. Not only that, but the country’s public and private health systems are constantly being upgraded—new hospitals, new equipment, and improvements in staff training. Photo: Suzan Haskins,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Great Reasons To Move To Costa Rica

Move to Costa Rica

There Are Many Reasons to Move to Costa Rica

Move to Costa Rica
Expats are moving to Costa Rica for its beautiful views, fantastic lifestyle, and low cost of living

Why would you want to move to Costa Rica? As thousands of expats will tell you, Costa Ricaoffers a fantastic lifestyle at a reasonable cost. Not to mention that Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with a modern capital city, long stretches of deserted tropical beaches, cool mountain getaways, and pristine lake regions.

Moving to Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica is particularly appealing because Costa Rica is a long-established democracy and politically stable, and, for the most part, it is safe. There is a low incidence of violent crime here; and outside the capital city of San Jose, there isn’t much crime of any kind. Costa Rica is known as one of Latin America’s most peaceful nations (and one of the most politically stable–it has enjoyed over 60 years of uninterrupted democratic rule). José Figueres Ferrer, who led an armed uprising that ended a 44-day Civil War, was glorified for abolishing the army and drafting a constitution that guaranteed free elections with universal suffrage. Unlike many of its neighbors, Costa Rica never had another civil war.
moving to costa rica
Because the country has no army to support, it is able to provide money for universal medical care and free and subsidized educational programs. The well-run national health care system means that the country’s people are strong and healthy. The average life expectancy is 76 years–one of the highest in the world. The country has an up-to-date medical system with hospitals, clinics, and complete medical services in all major cities and some towns. Costa Rica is considered to have one of the best low-cost medical care systems in the world. Dental care and cosmetic surgery is affordable, and Costa Rica’s plastic surgeons are considered among the world’s best.

You Don’t Have to Leave Much Behind When You Move to Costa Rica

You’ll find a wide variety of inexpensive housing in Costa Rica, and a wealth of every imaginable activity to keep you busy and happy. There are two excellent English-language newspapers, cable and DirectTV with all of the U.S. channels, and a myriad of exciting business opportunities for the enterprising entrepreneur. And consider this: If you move to Costa Rica, you can live comfortably on $1,000 to $2,000 per month, depending on your lifestyle. A full-time maid costs around $10 per day. Utilities, like telephone, electricity, and water, are much lower than in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Public transportation is excellent and inexpensive, so you don’t really need a car.
There are also many tax advantages you can enjoy after moving to Costa Rica. Investors pay no capital gains taxes on real estate, business taxes are minimal, and high-interest bank accounts are tax free. Property taxes are also reasonable compared with the U.S. and elsewhere.
Moving your household goods: No matter where you move to, transporting household goods and personal belongings can be challenging. For a move to Costa Rica, for example, you can choose an American moving company, but that firm will still have to deal with a local relocation company to deliver your goods in Costa Rica, a process that can entail tedious dealings with bureaucracy. To avoid this problem, experienced expats say the best strategy is to first select the Costa Rican company. This firm will then choose the American company that it wants to work with.
Moving with your pets: A rabies vaccination is required for pets that enter Costa Rica, and it must be administered between 30 days and one year before departure.You’ll also need to have your veterinarian fill out and sign the APHIS 7001 International Health Certificate from the United States Department of Agriculture stating that your pet is in good health. Birds require additional paperwork.
Firearms:The admission of firearms and ammunition into the territory of Costa Rica is subject to restrictions and import permits approved by Costa Rican authorities. Applications to import non-military weapons into the country may be filed by or through a licensed importer, authorized dealer or a particular person. You must register your weapon at the Ministry of Public Security’s Department of Firearms and Ammunitions once you arrive in Costa Rica.
When you take into account all of these factors and the fact that in Costa Rica you will surely enjoy a more peaceful and laid back way of life, it’s hard to understand why everyone isn’t moving to Costa Rica

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Costa Rica Chosen as Top Retirement Destination for 2014

One of the biggest dreams for retirees is moving to a warm, sunny place where you can relax and enjoy the “golden years” of life with no stress. Lower costs to stretch your savings and having good quality health care available are also top considerations.
In the Americas, Costa Rica continues to be one of the most popular retirement destinations.
HelpAge International, an index that measures the well-being of older people, named Costa Rica fourth best overall for 60-or-older residents in Latin America, and at the top in Central America. International Living Magazinealso selected Costa Rica as a top retirement haven for 2014, designating it as “among the best for health care.”
Retire in Costa RicaCosta Rica’s year-round warm weather and longtime political stability have made it a prime retirement destination for more than 30 years. Infrastructure and services are well-established and high quality and very affordable medical care is readily available. You can become a legal resident as a retiree (pensionado) with a monthly income of $1,000 from Social Security, disability benefits, a pension, or other source. Only one person in a couple has to show that income; their spouse is included as a dependent.

And Lake Arenal is the  best of the best of not only Costa Rica but all of Central America. Contact us for our Discount Discovery Tour - You will thank me you did

Terry Moran

Friday, January 10, 2014

Swept away in Lake Arenal

windsurfer arenal
Ashley Harrell
A windsurfer rides the legendary wind of Lake Arenal. 
By the tenth fall I started to think I was in trouble. I hoisted myself from Lake Arenal’s cold water and climbed back onto my windsurfing board, barely managing to stand. My arms failed me as I tried to raise the sail. I tugged hard, lost my balance and toppled back into the choppy waves.
Before leaving shore, I had been given one warning: If I strayed too far downwind, I would be unable to sail back. Over my shoulder, the volcano loomed. With every fall, the waves pushed me closer to it and closer to the point where I could not sail back.
Lauded as one of the best windsurfing spots in the world, Lake Arenal has long attracted windsurfers from all over the globe. From November to April, the trade winds funnel through Costa Rica’s northern highlands. During that time, Lake Arenal has the most consistent and strong winds in the northern hemisphere.
I heard about Arenal’s legendary windsurfing before I ever imagined I would live in Costa Rica. As a teenager, I spent part of every summer on a windsurfing board in northern Michigan’s Torch Lake, where my grandparents lived.
Though not nearly as consistent as Lake Arenal, Torch Lake occasionally sees some powerful winds, and once my sister, two cousins and I learned to harness it, we were hooked.
Out in the middle of the lake, a strong gust could take your board out of the water, throttling you across the lake at speeds up to 25 miles an hour. Sometimes we raced, but more often we would meet in the middle, lay our sails across each other’s boards and dive into the lake’s deep water.
It was my Torch Lake windsurfing instructor who told me about Lake Arenal. She said it was some of the best windsurfing she had ever experienced. I always remembered that, and though it had been years since I stepped onto a sailboard, last year I finally got the chance to take on Lake Arenal.
Wind turbines spin on the west side of Lake Arenal.
Ashley Harrell
The wind turbines on Lake Arenal’s west side seemed to be spinning faster than they should when Tico Times Weekend Editor Ashley Harrell and I left our hotel. Ashley had never windsurfed before and we had scheduled a lesson with Lake Arenal’s only windsurfing outfit, Tico Wind.
Pulling up to Tico Wind’s lakeside headquarters, it seemed we had stumbled upon the area’s most popular picnicking spot. Families on blankets scattered the lakefront and children in wetsuits ran around the lawn.
Windsurfing reached its peak in popularity the 80s and 90s. Many of those who started the sport at that time now have children and grandchildren of their own. Though long-time windsurfers still frequent Lake Arenal’s shore, its popularity amongst the young has waned.
These days, some adrenaline junkies seeking thrills on the water are more likely to turn to windsurfing’s more intense younger cousin, kite surfing, which along with stand-up paddleboarding makes up most of Tico Wind’s business.
We found our instructor Tom Rentschler near the snack booth lathering on sunscreen. By his own count, Rentschler has given 680 people windsurfing lessons. From a 10-year-old boy to a 72-year-old woman, Rentschler said that by the end of just one lesson, every person was able to stand up and sail on the lake.
We started on the simulator, a windsurfing board screwed to a swivel on the lawn. With a sail attached, the simulator’s board moves as it would in the water, allowing us to practice without waves to battle.
With Rentschler’s demonstrations and directions, Ashley quickly learned how to hoist the sail, steer and tack (turn around). I was nervous when my turn came, having talked up my windsurfing prowess considerably for someone who hadn’t windsurfed in six years. But my muscle memory kicked in. After a half hour on the simulator, Rentschler decided we were seaworthy.
We started out on a wide beginner board with a small sail. As promised, Ashley was able to sail right away. We took turns sailing out, turning around and sailing back. The whole time Rentschler had a firm grip on a tether tied to the board.
With each hoist of the mast, every turn and every tack I grew more confident that I could windsurf as I had before. But with its tiny sail, the board plodded slowly through the lake’s shallows. I looked out at the sailors deeper in the lake and I started to grow restless. After a few more successful loops on the tether, I was starting to think the lesson was beneath me. I had gotten cocky.
After a short break, I had convinced Rentschler that I was ready to go out on my own. As Tico Wind Owner Peter Hopley assembled my new gear, he looked worried.
“It’s a pretty windy day out there,” he said. “You don’t want to have to get rescued.”
On the lake’s shore, a Jet Ski sat ready for action. If a guest were to get stranded, Tico Wind would perform a rescue. Getting stuck out there would not be dangerous, but after my overconfident display, it would be embarrassing.
While Tico Wind instructors carried my gear down to the lake, Rentschler gave me the lay of the land. I needed to sail toward the middle of the lake, away from the volcano. He drew an imaginary line up the shore. Beyond that line, it was too difficult to get back.
I climbed into the water towing my new rental gear. Without a problem, I pulled up the sail, grabbed a hold of the boom and took off toward the middle of the lake. The sail filled with wind and I began to pick up speed. I leaned back over the water gaining confidence and setting off to the middle of the lake, confident I would never see the back of the Jet Ski.
When windsurfers talk about the Lake Arenal’s rough conditions, they often fail to mention just how beautiful lake is. Being in the middle out in the water is a treat, let alone flying over it on a sailboard. The feeling brought me back to my times on Torch Lake, to swimming in the water with my sister and cousins.
I let go of the sail, turned to face the volcano and jumped into the water. I dove down deep then returned to the surface to float and take in my surroundings. I paid a price for those few minutes of relaxation.
Lake Arenal’s waves were higher than any I had dealt with in Michigan. Once my sail was down, I was too unsteady to get back up. Fall after fall I moved closer to Rentschler’s invisible line.
When another windsurfer came help, his pink and white sail fluttering near my board, I started to worry.
“Do you need help?” he said.
At that point I knew I wouldn’t make it to shore myself. But maybe this man could get me to shore discretely, allowing me to avoid a humiliating Jet Ski rescue? He told me to grab a foot grip on the back of his board. I held my own equipment with my other hand, and he towed me a short distance.
I tried my best to hang on, but the strain was too much. I lost my hold on the man’s board several times, but he stayed with me. Each time he looped back around and slowed down, allowing me to grab his board again. But by now, everyone on the shore was aware of my struggle.
Rentschler had been watching me from shore. He knew I was done. He sent the Jet Ski.
My two-minute ride felt more like an hour. I clung to my rescuers life vest as Ashley snapped photos from the shore. I returned to the Tico Wind base embarrassed and exhausted, but still elated from my adventure on the lake.
Maybe next time with a little more practice – and a lot more humility – I can take on Lake Arenal.
Going there: Tico Wind is located on Lake Arenal’s west side off of highway 142, 20 minutes north of the town of Tilarán. The season extends from Thanksgiving weekend to April. Windsurfing rentals start at $50 for a half day to $770 for two weeks. A one-hour individual lesson is $50.  Stand-up paddleboard rentals range from $5-$40. Kite surfing rentals start at $58 for a half-day and run up to $385 for a week. Tico Wind offers three-hour kite surfing lessons for $200 and a complete nine-hour beginner course for $530. Call 2692-2002 or 8383-2694, or or visit