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Costa Rica punctuality, also known as Tico Time

Costa Rica punctuality, also known as Tico TimeCosta Rica punctuality, or so called Tico Time, will be a very important part of your lifestyle if you plan to move to Costa Rica and buy a home here. Tico time is part of the local culture.

I consider myself a punctual person, even after living in Costa Rica for over 30 years.

Writing a blog about this occurred to me after a seller of a property in Ciudad Colon got really mad at me for not showing up on the time that he thought we had agreed on. I had another appointment at the same time and I keep an electronic agenda on my computer and my iPhone, so you can probably guess what I decided to tell him. I think I said it nicely though.

Forgetting appointments

This blog was not written to try to tell you that I don’t care about time, actually quite the opposite. Sure, I forget an appointment here and there, especially when I’m doing something else at the time of answering my phone, like trying to attend a client who is buying a multi-million dollar home from me.

A client who is buying a multi-million dollar home from me

A client who is buying a multi-million dollar home from me

Being on time is an attitude

Latin American people generally have a different attitude, though things are changing little by little.  In Costa Rica, being on time for a meeting is not as important to the locals as it is to anyone who just moves here. Nobody really cares about 5 minutes or 10, or half an hour or even a couple of hours. We call it “Tico Time”. This might mean people come late, later or never. The amazing thing is that expats in Costa Rica adapt to this lifestyle really quickly and you should see how the most punctual person “turns Tico” in no time. I guess its because they like it here.

Calling to tell you’re late

I was just having a cup of  coffee and a cookie (which is how we drink coffee in Holland) with my wife downstairs and she said that two friends were planning to come by at lunch. While we were having lunch (we don’t wait for long anymore), Dany sent them a text message to tell them we just started with lunch, a simple sandwich. They returned the message saying that they were just buying bread. That was at 2:00 pm. I am now writing this blog and it is 4:40 pm. I’m glad we ate.

Coffee and a Dutch cookie

Coffee and a Dutch cookie


If you get invited for a party at a certain time, make sure you ask the time they give you is Tico time or Gringo time. You might catch the people who throw the party still in hair curlers if you are too punctual.


You will find the same thing in business; people are really easy about forgetting or just coming late because. So what did my gringo seller in Ciudad Colon wrong? When I didn’t show 10 minutes after our appointment, he could have called me. I know, it doesn’t make it all right, even if I would have just forgotten our appointment or if I would’ve run late indeed, but its just a matter of saving yourselves the boiling anger of the other person not showing or arriving later than agreed. In that case, you need to find yourself some patience.

Get out of the rat race by moving to Costa Rica

Adjustment to the culture

When you relocate to Costa Rica, most of you do it because you’re tired with the rat race and are looking to slow down, enjoy life more. So make sure you do and adjust to another one of these cultural differences that make it so nice to live in Costa Rica, if you can get to accept them of being part of your new life in Costa Rica. It is YOU who has to adjust to the culture and not the other way around. No matter how long you have been living in Costa Rica, you should call if you’re running late. Do NOT get used to Tico time.

By the way, the friends DID show and not only 2 but 4, they duplicated on the way. It was almost dinner time when they arrived but they know this Dutch guy and his wife are cool with that.

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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.

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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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