We are in high season here in the southern pacific zone. The months of November through April are typically when there are more tourists here than during the rainy months.

There is another type of “high season” happening right now as well. This has more to do with world conditions. I know, those from the States are going to think that Mr. Trump is pushing many to look elsewhere. And I suspect that this is true to some extent. I think that Mr. Trump has been good for my Costa Rica real estate business. I think Mrs. Clinton would have been as well. Such is the world that we live in.

However, our property buyers here are not just from the States. We’ve got buyers from Canada, despite their currently weak currency. These people are buying property and essentially paying 30% – 40% more due to the exchange rate on their currency. One has got to wonder – why?

France, Germany, Great Britain – all are providing us here with buyers. Again: why? There are economic, political and security issues happening in various areas of the world. I suppose that greater analytical minds would come up with the cause and effect links in trying to answer the question. But I find that there is one common thread when I talk with these people.

The Reason:
Stress
is pushing, and the promise of less stress, is pulling people to consider a life in Costa Rica. Simpler living is highly attractive. Costa Rica offers this and it (simple living) seems to be the antidote to whatever may be happening in one’s home country.

Uvita, Dominical, Ojochal and the surrounding areas that make up Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone are all seeing an influx of buyers. But there is more. There are some big-money players who are making some moves here that are notable. There are condominium complexes being constructed, and sold at a good clip. There are town homes, urbanization projects and upgrades to some of the antiquated infrastructure in some of these areas.

There is some talk of giving Uvita a facelift. This is much needed. With both Dominical and Ojochal, you turn off the coastal highway and drive into the town. In Uvita, the highway passes right through the town. Up till now its growth has happened with hardly any attention to the aesthetic and it is essentially a strip-mall, Costa Rican style.

This is a pity since Uvita could really have been (or be made to be) one of the most beautiful towns on the planet. So if these well funded entities see the beautifying of the town as in their best interests, great! Although it’s hard to imagine what can be done, short of tearing the whole thing down and starting over again.

The Envision Festival is going on currently. This has become one of the largest events of the year. Kudos to the organizers. I’ve heard that 7,000 people attended last year, but that about half that number are here now.

Uvita Costa Rica's Crunchy Envision Festival

2017 Envision Festival Uvita Costa Rica

Some of the Ticos complain a bit about Envision, claiming that the drugs, nudity and general licentiousness is disrespectful to their culture. I suspect that there is some truth to these allegations, but for me, I’ve never met an Envisioner I didn’t like and the festival provides a time of some fascinating people watching.

I’ve not  personally ever attended. I can hear the music from my home well, the bass notes anyway, and I routinely provide rides to those thumbing to the grocery store and back. There is also the complaint of them being a bit odoriferous, but I can’t speak to this having lost my olfactory sense some years back. So I get along fine with them in my car and always enjoy their upbeat spirit.

So between the time of year and world conditions, sales are good here in the Zone’s real estate market.

About Property Prices:
During the recession, there was not much of a market here. It hit hard and us realtors languished waiting for the anomalous inquiry that might result in a sale. I actually got into brokering hard money loans during this time in an effort to not only make a little commission, but to also help some land owners to not lose their properties.

Prices plummeted during the recession. This was an interesting time. The pre-recession time was a “boom”. The biggest challenge for a buyer then was being able to find an available real estate agent. I felt like I should put a Baskin Robbins “take a number” device at the door. Some of these buyers were our good-old bread and butter retirees, looking to retire to Costa Rica. However, there were lots of folks who refinanced their homes and then found themselves cash-rich and wondering what to do with it. The causes of the recession helped to fuel some of that heady boom and resulted in pushing prices up to a rather silly level.

So the fall of pricing some 40% – 50% during the recession could appropriately be called a correction.

Much of our land here is still at recession pricing. There hasn’t been a big upward push on prices since then. The demand for houses is strong and so we’re starting to see some upward movement there – all very rational though. This is no heady boom. Its simply that the inventory which was glutted post-recession, is finally starting to get mopped up. This was inconceivable in the years following the recession due to the glut.

I still get asked sometimes why it seems that everything is for sale. I find this interesting since I have to really work to find properties for some of the criteria lists I build for my clients.

Yes, I suppose everything is, in fact, for sale, at some price. However, finding what you want, finding that screaming ocean view with good access and amenities nearby, and all this in your budget, can sometimes be a bit daunting.

And then there is that wonderful amenity “simplicity”. I wonder if this could be put at the top of the list. Right up there with “ocean view”. I’m thinking that this one amenity is the primary mover of the current strong market we’re seeing here in The Zone.


Sierpe Del Pacifico – On The River, Off The Grid 2


Writing a blog about Costa Rica real estate has its perks. We’ve got readers out there who are doing some pretty creative projects and we don’t even know about them… until they get ready to go to market with their project. Such is the case with Sierpe Del Pacifico (SDP). Fred and his son Cassidy approached Rod & I about a month ago to tell us about their project in Sierpe. I think that this type of inquiry wouldn’t normally have much interest to us Guys, but Fred had written such an eloquent and well crafted introductory e-mail that we were intrigued.

sdp.gif

Sierpe is a bit out of the way, on the fringe of “The Zone”. I’ve also heard that it is hot and buggy. I’m not much for hot and buggy, but in truth I couldn’t speak from personal experience regarding the place, so I kept an open mind.

What Fred & Cassidy have done is they have formed a father & son team and are passionately developing a piece of property that offers what, I suspect, a lot of readers of this blog are looking for: a truly unplugged, solar powered, bio-digesting, boat access project, surrounded by some of the best fishing, both fresh water, brackish and deep sea, in the… country? World? I don’t know, but you always catch big, tasty fish when you go out with them.
We met in Sierpe where I parked my car and looked a little hesitant at Cassidy when he said to just leave it there as we started walking towards the boat. He saw my concern and said that Sierpe is one of the most crime free areas he’s ever seen.

We walked past the Sierpe jail, which had no door on it. They said that on the rare occasion that there is a resident there, and he needs to use the nearby bathroom, he stands in the door and waves at whoever may be nearby, and they have the community responsibility to escort the “prisoner” to the baño and back. If the prisoner were to just go it alone, he’d get in some kind of trouble.

This feel of community, safety, and security permeated our day along the Sierpe River.

Guillermo is the man in charge of pretty much everything having to do with SDP. Lean and clear eyed, Guillermo was born and raised in Sierpe, and is one of the pillars in the local community. He works full time for Fred & Cassidy, and has nicely interfaced the necessary connections between the cultures there. Gringo’s and Ticos, working together with a common interest in preserving some of the most profoundly natural terrain on planet earth.

We got in the boat and were expertly glided down the Sierpe about 10 minutes to the private dock that services SDP. All residents of SDP get their own slip included in the purchase of a property there. The prices in the project range from $40,000 to $225,000, depending largely on the river views. This compares nicely with a project up in Quepos where just the slip alone will run you $175,000.

The ocean tide is what affects the flow of the river. Sierpe has a constant floating bio-mass of what the locals call “lechuga” which translates to “lettuce”. It isn’t edible, but just looks a bit lettuce-like. There are some flowering lilies as well – gorgeous. The effect is that you can tell whether the tide is coming in or going out by what direction the lechuga is moving. When we got there in the morning, it was all moving inland. When we returned in the afternoon, it was all flowing towards the ocean.

The fact is, that waters around Sierpe are teeming with fish of all kinds. Red Snapper, snook, sea bass, robalo (not sure what the translation is of that) and more. The crocs, birds, and people are all well fed thanks to the larder provided by the earth.

To truly unplug, this is the place to do it. You can grow some of planet earth’s tastiest fruits and vegetables on your property. You can hop in your boat and catch your protein needs for the day. Pluck a couple of mandarin limes off of your tree, catch a red snapper, and concoct your own signature touch ceviche.

We visited the model home, a rustic, well built 800 square foot villa on one of the lots. We enjoyed the air motion provided by the ceiling fan, and marveled at the LED 60 watt light bulbs that generated a normal amount of lighting needs for the living space – all solar powered. The view off of the elevated patio was of a virgin primary stand of rain forest where monkeys, parrots, parakeets, and all other manner of wildlife can be seen. The cup of coffee made on the propane stove was stellar. We found ourselves delaying departure even though we still had a good amount of property to walk.

The properties are gorgeous, and well priced based on their inherent amenities: view, building pad, accessibility. Oh, there are no cars in SDP. You arrive by boat, and you walk, or use a quad-runner, (ATV) to get around. All internal roads are narrow and couldn’t accommodate the passing of a car. The mangroves are a huge value-ad. We stopped and watched a family of about 25 pizotes cross our path up ahead. Toucans, woodpeckers and on it goes.

To live off of the grid, in self sufficiency, must be a wonderfully secure feeling. I’ve never personally experienced it, but I have certainly experienced the draw of the lifestyle.

We’ll be posting more about SDP as we come to know the project better.


2 thoughts on “Sierpe Del Pacifico – On The River, Off The Grid

  • Dhenley15

    Hi Guys–I was interested to read your review of Sierpe del Pacifico, as I am looking around for a sustainable development to invest in despite these down economic times. Their lot prices don’t seem discounted to me at all–225K just for a river view–wonder what you think of their deals?–A house w/ some sort of panels between framing seems cheesey and is priced over 300K! and everyhouse built seems to be for sale–people getting tired of needing to board a boat when they want to shop?.

    Anyway, my comment is this: I was surprised you showed no concern at leaving your car at the dock at Sierpe. While we waited to board a boat for Drake Bay w/in 3 ” of standing with and transferring our backpacks to the boat a small group of teens had already lifted everything they could from our bags from flashlights to penknives. They seem to have made aliving that way they were so slick. But that’s just a postscript: I wouldn’t trust leaving my car for ten minutes let alone an extended day. My impression of the S. Zone’s no-door jail w/ no prisoners is because there is no police to arrest them! Or even operable patrol cars! The one chkpt by Baru is the only presence I’ve seen and according to CAP, the last report had a couple people being tied up and robbed at shotgun point along the first ridge of homes in Dominical. Scared to buy now. Care to comment?!
    David

    • Ben Vaughn

      Hello Dave,

      Many thanks for your thoughts. Crime here in Costa Rica is certainly different than anything I have experienced anywhere else.

      I have been the poster child for CAP and crime in The Zone, due to the fact that I was nearly killed by a thief after confronting him in the act of burglarizing my home, and then chasing him in my car and ending up getting a bat to the head.

      The repeated stories of thievery here can be a bit disconcerting. Personally, I find myself in a position of “picking one’s poison”. I have chosen to live in Costa Rica, and continue to do so, despite its negatives. When I look around at the world and consider where I want to live, I conceptually pick a spot, let’s say someplace in the US. I then consider the pluses and minuses of the decision, and I keep coming back to Costa Rica as having more pluses for me, AND less minuses, than elsewhere.

      The crime thing here is a definite booger on the quality of life, but I choose to live with this, and in fact believe that it is manageable. By being informed, and thinking about the prevailing conditions, wherever we are, we can avoid a lot of the problems. There seem to be boogers on life no matter where one goes. We humans have done a pretty good job of mis-managing the planet at large.

      My thoughts on Sierpe are similar to my thoughts on going to the beach:
      don’t leave anything in the car. Sometimes I even leave the glove
      compartment open and the doors unlocked. The roving band of punk thieves
      might take a quick gander through the car, but won’t do any damage, nor
      take anything since there is nothing to take. A sting would be a good
      idea. The video surveillance that CAP is putting up around Dominical has
      put nearly 15 of these guys in jail since its inception. While in jail,
      they evidently talk a bit and it would seem that word is getting out that
      The Zone is not the place to ply their trade and so they need to move on to
      greener pastures. Crime is currently on the decline here.

      I welcome this discussion and look forward to your response. Crime has had
      a HUGE impact on my life and I think that it is a service to my clients to
      openly discuss it.

      Ben Vaughn