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Are Costa Ricans proactive or not?

Are Costa Ricans proactive or not?

One of the most difficult things for me in living in Costa Rica and adapting to the Costa Rican culture has been the pro-activity of the locals, the Ticos. If you wonder, yes I am still trying to adapt to a different culture after 35 years, as there are certain habits that are really difficult to adapt to, for me at least. 
Just in case anyone might think I’m negative or complaining, I’m not. This is just a simple statement, so you’re aware of it, can adjust to the reality and so you can take the necessary action when needed. So the question is “are Costa Ricans proactive or not?”
I recently did some consultancy for a Costa Rican company where some employees are foreigners and some locals. After a month or so, I had over 600 emails in my mailbox and it was growing fast. The reason for this ever-growing mailbox was that nobody was taking any decisions and hiding others. 
On some of those emails, there were 6 or more people involved and everybody would just answer yes or no to a suggestion but nobody would come with a solution or another suggestion and even less take the lead on a discussion. It clearly showed here that Costa Ricans are not proactive, unless they’re put under pressure.
I think the fear of taking a decision is to get noticed, or maybe to fail or rejected. Or maybe it’s what makes the difference between an employee and an entrepreneur. I haven’t done any research on it and I won’t, I am just using it so you understand how many Ticos do not anticipate on what’s going on around them, so don’t expect it.


If you are creative enough you might be able to cover your cost of living

I get over 600 emails a day


Usually, if you don’t ask a person for something in particular, you won’t get it, they won’t volunteer it. You will hardly ever see someone think ahead and suggest something to you.  

In the Costa Rica real estate business that we are in, it’s very important to be proactive; I’ve learned that many years ago. At GoDutch Realty, we really want to stay ahead of everybody else and guide you through a process that you don’t know, without any potholes. Here are a few simple examples that you might need in the near future.

The purchase of electrical switch plates

Just last week, we sold a condo in Escazu and the buyers left town to pack their belongings and send it to Costa Rica. They left our office in charge of making sure the condo is painted by a painter we recommended. Before they left, the buyers went to the electrical supply store to choose new electrical switch plates for all light switches and outlets and sent me a photo by Whatsapp of the models they elected. 


Use WhatsApp to send images works well in Costa Rica

Electrical switch plate photo by Whatsapp

A couple of days later, the handyman calls to say that he went to the store and the salesperson said they don’t have any inventory of that model. 

This is where the handyman should have gotten proactive and taken a photo with his phone of the available switch plates that are similar, its prices and send it by Whatapp back to me so that I could email the seller to ask for feedback. Now it will take a few days before he has a chance to go back to the store and by the time we get an answer from the client, it’ll be a week later. It’s so simple you’d think.

A testament for a foreign buyer

We can’t really anticipate when we will die, although we all know that it will be our turn one day. Older people, when they move to another country, will leave family behind as assets and bank accounts and probably have a will or testament.  

Once they get to Costa Rica and buy a house and a car they will have to make the transaction of buying the asset in a Costa Rican lawyer’s office. 


We can’t really anticipate when we will die

We can’t anticipate when we’ll die, so we better get a testament


Rarely have I seen a lawyer in Costa Rica offer the client explanation about the necessity of having a separate will for their assets in Costa Rica and offering this service. I guess lawyers are not sales people, but in my opinion, it is very necessary for a lawyer to explain the need to a will for their Costa Rican assets and it would be appreciated by most buyers. Ask your lawyer about it if you don’t have one yet.

Costa Ricans are not proactive

The two samples that I gave you are two very different samples, but I’m sure you will find out for yourself if Costa Ricans are proactive or not. In my opinion, they’re not.  I find it particularly hard to deal with our account manager at Scotiabank, any large company and of course in the Municipality, the water company, the phone company, the power company, the cable TV company and a few others.

I love living in Costa Rica but I tend to get impatient sometimes when I feel the people I am treating have sufficient intelligence to come up with a solution. But then I remind myself that I should adapt to them and not the other way around.

Today’s lesson: Don’t wait, be proactive yourself, and get it done.

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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. I know you all meet people on the plane, in the supermarket, at yoga, at the gym, at the Blooms ladies club, at the potluck organized by your community. Please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, when you meet someone who wants to purchase one, we appreciate it.

We Love your Referrals at GoDutch Realty



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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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