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:
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.

New International Airport In Costa Rica Aims For “Green” Status 1

The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice.   – George Eliot

Now that the Costanera Sur (Coastal Highway) has been completed, the new international airport for the southern Pacific zone is the single, most popular, regional question we receive. Most investors want it. Most environmentalists are alarmed by the thought of it. But, everybody wants to know how it is progressing and when/if it will be built.


Can money and a safe environment co-exist?

As per a recent report in the July edition of Enlace, a small local newspaper here in the southern Pacific zone, the Costa Rican government just concluded a meeting to determine the future of the International Airport in the area.  They also discussed how this airport would also be the 1st “green” airport in Latin America.

Another Airport Article?

I’m skeptical when I see news articles for the new International Airport in the Sierpe/Palmar area.  There has been talk of building this airport since I moved here in 2006.  Although Costa Rica has developed by leaps and bounds over the last 10-15 years, slow progress is the custom here.  The difference with this recent announcement is that the OACI (Organización de Aviación Civil Internacional), in conjunction with investors and local government groups, has selected two companies to complete a comprehensive impact study.   With this study in hand, the project should be able to make a case for construction.

The two independent groups are Acciona IngenierÍa, a company from Spain, and a Costa Rican environmental consultants Inforest Consultores Ambientales.  I couldn’t find any press releases on their respective websites, but according to the Enclace article the studies will include geological, hydro, archeological and aviary analysis.  The aviary report, which includes the migratory patterns of various bird groups native to the Osa Peninsula and beyond, is expected to be completed in 14 months while the other findings are expected to be completed in nine. They will also research the expected socio-economic impact for the region, and as I wrote in my 2010 article, a number of hotels will need to be built on the Costa Ballena in order to accommodate 300+ new arrivals per day.  With a price tag of $998,300, I imagine the government is confident it will receive a positive result.

Building It “Green”

I didn’t even know a “green airport” was possible until I started reading up on it.  England, the U.S., India, and Switzerland are just a few countries that have either achieved “green” certification or are adopting sustainable energy systems and transportation, and use recycled building methods.  According to the article, Costa Rican government wants to use these methods to make this new airport the first certified “green” aeródromo in Central America.

The Osa Peninsula, specifically the Corcovado National Park, was once described as “the most biologically intense place on the planet” by National Geographic magazine.  Eco-tourism draws thousands of tourists, students and environmentalists to the area every year.  The Minister of Air Transportation seems to get this bigger picture when he said, “The master plan will contemplate each phase of design, construction and operation.  It will be constructed using specific criteria and specialized techniques to guarantee the protection and conservation of the ecological resources and habitats.”

Whether it is possible to protect a wetland habitat adjacent to an airport remains to be seen, but the companies appear set to do their due diligence.  Over the course of the next 14 months, Inforest Consultores Ambientales will be measuring the migration patterns of the various birds species in the immediate wetland areas.  Specifically, they want to know exactly when these bird species will be on the move.  Their intention is to cancel a time frame of flights (common in other areas) that may impact the well being of these species.  They are also planning to protect 7,000 hectares of wetlands in the surrounding area into perpetuity.


Ideally located between the Costa Ballena and the Osa Peninsula… or is it?

The original (and obvious) idea for the airport was to expand the current regional airport in Palmar to accommodate planes capable of traveling longer distances and carrying more people.  What those initial studies determined was the mountain range directly east of the location made it a potentially dangerous fly zone, not to mention the entire town of Palmar would need to be moved and the property owners compensated for being displaced.

The new and current plan involves locating the airport on Fincas 9 and 10 in Sierpe (see image).  This location is less than 5 minutes from the current Palmar Regional Airport on flat land that is/was used for banana and date palm plantations.  I’m not an aviation expert, but these flat, contiguous parcels do seem to offer a better orientation for take offs and landings.

The landing strip will be 2.2km, one less than the Int’l airport in San Jose and with a main terminal building that will be five times smaller than the recently expanded airport in Liberia.  It will service small planes, corp. jets, and (most important for tourism) the 190 and 320 Airbuses capable of carrying up to 150 passengers.  Clearly, the thought of driving 30 minutes to the Costa Ballena instead of 3 hours is appealing to many tourists, business owners, and investors.

Pros and Cons-clusion

The problem for environmentalists is the proximity to the Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands and the wildlife contained therein.  They also point to Costa Rica’s wildlife as the main reason people visit the area.  Investors, hoteliers and business owners are hoping the two companies conducting the studies will be able to show that the impact on the environment will be minimal and/or off-set by the “green” building materials and sustainable energy sources, so it can move forward.  For better or worse, the future of the area will be dramatically affected by these reports.

About Tigre

My first visit to Costa Rica was in 2002. I immediately fell in love with the warmth of the climate and people. After spending two weeks in San Jose, Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side, and Tamarindo in Guanacaste, I knew there was a good chance I would return sooner than later. Sooner came just 6 months later when my uncle mentioned he was flying down to Costa Rica to close on a piece of property in the Southern Pacific Zone. On that trip I found my own piece of paradise above the small town of San Buenaventura, home to the San Buenas Golf Resort. Two years and 8 trips later, I decided to move to Costa Rica full time. Every day I am thankful for that decision.

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