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Should you trust people you meet just because they speak your language?

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Should you trust people you meet just because they speak your languageShould you trust people you meet in Costa Rica just because they speak your language?

At home, you grew up in a certain environment and you learned how to recognize the people you don’t want in your life and those you cannot trust. When you move to Costa Rica, it is like your first day in school, except that now you cannot call on your mom to help when you’re in trouble.

Now you are on your own, just you and your spouse (and sometimes the kids). You arrive in this huge world full of people you do not understand because they speak a different language and you don’t know who you can trust.

You might think you’re wise and know it all. Surprise! You don’t. Moving to another country with a different culture and another language is like starting all over again. You need to learn to look out for yourself and your family like you have never done before in life. This is a factor that is part of this adventure and it is part of the learning curve.

Making mistakes is ok!

Our big mistake

When our family planned to move to Costa Rica, my mom and dad visited for 3 weeks. My brother and I gave them a list of like 30 possible businesses to start. We had no clue and we found out later dad didn’t either. Nonetheless, dad recommended us a business pretty high on our list: a window cleaning company.

He told us there were lots of dirty windows in Costa Rica, so a window cleaning business should be a really good business to start. Big mistake! That statement cost my brother and me lots of blood, sweat, and tears and didn’t make our move to Costa Rica easier for us.

Should you trust people you meet just because they speak your languag

Years later I realized that it was our own mistake because we were old enough to do our own due diligence; we shouldn’t have accepted his recommendations just like that.

His big mistake

Before the move to Costa Rica, my dad met the owner of a tea and spice packing plant who was looking for an investor and my dad thought he would be the perfect partner. His big mistake! It turned out to be the perfect partner from hell and a couple of years later my dad walked away from his first investment in Costa Rica, no less than $30K, which was a lot of money at the time (in 1980).

Taking the blame

It took me years to find out what exactly the reason was that it all went wrong. Some people don’t trust anyone, others trust everyone. It’s wrong both ways. I see clients make that mistake all the time. If you make mistakes, most are your own fault and the best thing to do is take the blame yourself.

The Language

When we moved to Costa Rica, most of the locals didn’t speak anything but Spanish and we didn’t take the time to learn Spanish. That was a huge mistake, as we were kind of depending on those people with who we could communicate. Dutch, English, and German didn’t do us any good in a Spanish spoken country and we forgot, like most, that we are a guest in their country and should have learned their language, or even the basics, before making the move. If you don’t speak the language, you go to places where you can find people who speak your own language and those are the people you can trust. Should you?

Can’t trust the Locals

Once in a while, I hear people say they got robbed or scammed and automatically everybody supposes they were scammed by the locals. After 35 years in Costa Rica, I really have to defend the locals. Most thieves and scammers in Costa Rica are foreigners, and many times it’s the fault of those who were scammed even though they will never want to agree with my opinion.

Should you trust people you meet just because they speak your language?

Learn from your mistakes and others’

If you want to make an investment when you move to Costa Rica or think you can get a great deal, check the other party’s background, recommendations, and check testimonials posted on websites that are trying to sell you their products or services. I’ve gone on my face quite a few times myself, but I think I have learned since then (and still learning) and am more careful now. And I can assure you that most locals who steal, are petty thieves. For the big stuff, you’ll find they’re mostly foreigners and those who speak your language.

Today’s lesson: don’t do what you wouldn’t do back home and don’t trust people because they are nice to you or because they speak your language.

Making mistakes is ok. I learned the hard way, which is why I am a better real estate broker now than I was before. I learned from my mistakes and do due diligence on every property I list for sale. That’s also why all GoDutch realty agents do a title check and look at a survey before they list a property.

If you are in the market to purchase a home in Costa Rica, contact us now. Oh, and we do speak your language!


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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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