You just closed on your property and want to know what are the next steps. Here are important things to do and remember. First, enjoy your new property! Take some time to sit down and relax before you start moving things around. Then, depending if you are going to rent out your property or live there, the steps will be different.
If you are going to rent your property with a rental company:
- Schedule a meeting with one or many rental and management companies. They will explain how they work, how much they charge and will explain their contract. The management and rental company will a) advertise your property through different websites such as airbnb and vrbo b) take care of your renters - check ins, check outs, shuttle, tours etc. c) charge the renters for the rental period 4) pay your expenses monthly and take care of your accounting. You don't need to open a bank account. To learn more about what they do and how much they typically charge: FAQ's.
- Cable and internet - The previous owner may have cancelled his contracts with the providers and already returned the routers and modems because the contracts are not transferable. You will need a new contract for both services. Your new property manager can do that for you.
- If you need to buy things to get ready for the renters, they can do it for you or you can buy it yourself. Make sure to ask them for advices, they know what you should buy or not.
- If you want to make some renovations, ask your property manager. They normally have a crew for that. You don't have to use them but if you don't know anyone else, it will be of great help.
If you are going to live here:
Open a bank account under your personal name. At Banco Nacional, they will ask you for a letter signed by someone who has an account there. We have that reference letter at Remax, ask us if you need it. You will also need your passport (no copy) and probably the proof that you have purchased a property so bring a copy of your deed. If you go to Banco de Costa Rica or Bac San Jose, it will be the same process but without the letter. If you want to open a corporation bank account because you will run a business with your property, you will need to get a certification from an an accountant. It will take about a week to get it done, and you will need other legal documents from your attorney so contact the bank first and ask them what you will need to bring.
You will have to learn how to pay your bills online. We are providing a payment schedule for your utilities and taxes so you will know when they are due. Write down the contract numbers on the document so you will have it ready when it will be time to pay. It is also important to know that as a non resident, you won't be allowed to pay someone by transfer to a different bank than yours. If you do not want to open a bank account, you can also pay your utility bills in any grocery store by giving your contract number or pay directly at each provider's office.
Your attorney will transfer your water (AYA or ASADA) and electric (ICE or COOP GUANACASTE) meters for you. It takes about a month to have it transferred under your name or company's name. The meter numbers won't change, and you will always pay with the meter numbers so do not wait to see it under your name to pay it. Make sure to pay in time (ask your attorney or agent when it is due) or they will cut you off. They are not very patient and won't wait to have a long running bill for weeks before they do so. Just 2-3 days late and it will be too late.
To have an alarm system installed, call Terry at Force One, he is the owner and will recommend the best system for your property. For insurance, call Phil Eitman, owner of All Insurance CR. He is a broker and can help with all type of insurances (property, health, life etc). You can go to ICE in Huacas to get a cell phone and/or phone line, they are the main phone line providers of the country. There are different cable and internet providers available in the Guanacaste province. You will need to choose one if there are different options available in your area:
- Cabletica for Cable + Internet
- Tigo for Cable + Internet
- Coop Guanacaste Telecom for Cable + Internet
- Telecable for Cable + Internet
- ICE for Cable + Internet + Phone
- Wimax for Internet
- CRWifi for Internet
If you want to buy a car
You can buy it personally or through a corporation. There are a few pages on Facebook where people post their used car for sale (per example: Tamarindo - Coco used cars and motos, Buy and Sell cars in Costa Rica, Tamarindo Cars For Rent / Sale). You can also visit www.crautos.com. When you buy a car, you need an attorney to transfer it for you at the Registro Nacional and sign the documents. If it is a new car, the dealership will provide the attorney and pay the transfer fees. If you buy a used car, you will need your own attorney to be involved.
The transfer fees vary, depending on the value and age of the car. If it's an older car, you will need to get an annual technical revision, it is about 40.00 or so per year (Revision Tecnica). If it is a new car, it will also be about 40.00 but will have to be done every 2 years. Depending on the licence plate number, they will assign a specific month for your revision. You will also have to pay the matriculation of the vehicule yearly, in December (Marchamo). It varies in function of the value of the car.
Every time you want to speak/contract/make any changes on behalf of your corporation, you will need a personeria juridica. That document shows who are the legal representative autorised to sign on behalf of the corporation. It costs about 5.00-6.00 and can be purchased at any postal office, through your attorney or online if you have an account on the Registro Nacional website. This document is valid for 15 days only at the time. If you are going as a person to get a new service or contract, always bring your passport (not a copy). It is your official way to be identified in Costa Rica until you become resident.
Don't plan too many appointments on the same day. Going to the bank can take 3 hours for something that would take 15 minutes in North America. The bureaucracy in Costa Rica is heavy and people are slow; it may be why you wanted to move here so breathe and take it easy. If you loose it, they will remember and you won't have a good service the next time you will go there.
Let us know how it goes!