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Pablo’s decision making process to purchase Atenas property

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Pablo's decision making process to purchase Atenas property

I’d like to tell you about the decision making process before we purchased an Atenas property.

Walt Disney said that “dreams really do come true.”  Now we believe it – or at least we are starting to.

Ten years ago, Katya and I first visited Costa Rica.  We stayed on the Nosara peninsula, visited Arenal, and spent some time in an eco-lodge on the Osa peninsula.  We also made a huge mistake – we saw a piece of land near Nosara for sale and decided … not to do anything.  Talk about bad decisions – even if we had done nothing but hold the property and resell it we would have made a mint.

So when we saw some land here in Costa Rica this past January we didn’t hesitate – and now we are proud owners of Atenas property in Costa Rica.  Over the coming year, we will

  1. Design a house,
  2. Break ground,
  3. Move to Costa Rica (in 18 months),
  4. and have a new place to live.

We are very well organized people, the reason for this decision making process.

The Process

When it’s done, we plan to spend most of the winter in Costa Rica and parts of summer as well. We’ll be spending Spring and Fall back with family in the States.

And so begins the story of how we bought Atenas property… at Ivo’s suggestion, I’m going to write a blog. But, not as often as TicoNuevo! This first blog will show you the decision making process we went through from the beginning till the end.

My blogs will go from “dreaming” about Costa Rica to living in a new home.  This is the first installment.  What I want to talk about here is really the decision making process: what we were thinking; and the problems we saw; that sort of thing.

I’m not a great storyteller, but maybe this will help others who are thinking similar thoughts.

Pablo's decision making process to purchase Atenas property

The decision making process – what we were thinking; what problems we saw

Why Costa Rica

So … the obvious first question is: why Costa Rica?  After all, the first thing you might ask is “why not Arizona?”  Or Nicaragua?  Or one of the Caribbean Islands?  Why did we choose Costa Rica to buy a property?  And once we chose Costa Rica, why Atenas?

The truth is that when you factored in all of the things we wanted in a second home. It was a pretty easy choice – almost “obvious” to pick Costa Rica. Katya and I discussed the 5 next steps of the decision making process, which allowed us to pinpoint down the country.

1. Relatively Close to Family

Here is how we thought about it:  First, we wanted to live somewhere that was relatively near to our home on the East Coast of the US.  We still have family in the US with grandchildren, children, brothers, nieces, and nephews, etc. who we wanted to be relatively near to.  We more or less wanted someplace that was no more than 5 hours away by plane with direct connections to our home.  So that cut down the scope of where we could go pretty dramatically.

2. Which Continent

Europe was out; so was Asia; and so was most of South America.  If not for this requirement, we might well have bought a home in New Zealand (which is a wonderful place) or Vietnam (another great place). But both of them take 24-48 hours to get to.  That was too far for us, so we had only North America, the Caribbean, and Central America to consider.

Pablo's decision making process to purchase Atenas property

3. A Warm Place

Then, of course, since this was going to be a winter home, it had to be someplace warm.  No point in having a winter home that was too cold – so there went Canada out the window.  And it had to be a place where we could get good “bang for the buck”. Also, a place where our American dollar would be fairly strong and useful in purchasing services.  We aren’t poor people, but we didn’t want to be living in a place where we felt we were scraping by.  So that, pretty much, excluded all of the southern United States.

4. With a Culture

The next factor we considered was one that was, perhaps, more unique to our own predilections.  We wanted to live somewhere with a culture that was different from our own; and also one that had a real, local culture that was not overwhelmed by tourists and snow-bird visitors.  We’d been on many Caribbean islands. Our general sense was that too many of them were flooded by non-local culture and too dependent on tourism.  We also both have always enjoyed Latin/Spanish culture – the food; the music; and the language.  In short, we wanted a place that felt like a different, but recognizable community. So that meant somewhere in Central America.

5. A Safe Place

We wanted to be safe. So there went Mexico because of the cartels and some of the other more dangerous countries. It had to be someplace with a strong rule of law.  We were afraid that if we invested our hard-earned cash in a property and a house, then some disruption in the civil justice system would wind up threatening that investment.   In our worst nightmares, we imagined being sued by some locals over a slight and having our house expropriated.  We wanted someplace where that wouldn’t happen.

Two Choices

And in the end, if you do your due diligence, there really are maybe two places that meet all these requirements – Costa Rica and Panama.  And we fell in love with Costa Rica. The friendliness of the people and their welcoming nature made it an easy choice. We didn’t even go and look at Panama.

Pablo's decision making process to purchase Atenas property


So … why Atenas?  The same decision making process led us there.  We wanted “warm” but not too warm.  Our ideal climate is sort of perpetual spring, not hot summer.  So the two coasts of Costa Rica were “out.”  We also wanted someplace quiet and away from the big city – so we said “no” to San Jose and its close-in suburbs like Escazu.

Our ideal type of community was a relatively small one. One with the fresh produce available and a smallish ex-pat community.  We also wanted a place with a solid local structure of community services relatively near to good health care.

We wound up looking at Atenas, and also at Grecia nearby.  Grecia was just a hair too cool for our tastes. Though the size of the community was a little more our liking– somewhat bigger than Atenas.

In the end, though, it was a combination of two things – the Atenas weather. National Geographic called it the “best climate in the world” which is saying something! And the pleasure of finding the perfect Atenas property to buy … about which more in my next blog.

The Author

Pablo is a North American expat who moved to Atenas. Pablo and his wife bought a building lot in a gated community. They hired an architect and a builder to design and build their custom home.

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