Welcome to our new website

Welcome to Guardian Angels CR Relocation Services. We have made bog changes in design and structure of the website.


Costa Rican Telephone Numbers Will Have 1 More Digit in March

According to the ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) one more digit will be added on March 20 to all phone numbers (both commercial, residential plus mobile phones) to leave space for future expansion.

The new numbers will look like this:

  • Residential and Commercial: add numnber 2 at the beginning
    • Now: xxx-xxxx
    • After March 20: 2xxx-xxxx
  • Mobile Phones
    • Now: 3xx-xxxx or 8xx-xxxx
    • After March 20: 83xx-xxxx or 88xx-xxxx

The change will be done at 00 hours and there will be no disruption of services. However keep in mind:

  • To update all marketing, paper, signs, contact cards.
  • To update your contact information on the Internet / web sites
  • To update the phone numbers in you cellphone / palm, etc


Some Tips on Buying Lots in a Development

Buying lots in a new development in Costa Rica may be an affordable investment for many people, particularly if the lots are newly developed and there are no homes yet.  You may also have your pick of multiple lots, some with terrific mountain or ocean views, depending on where the property is located.  Many, many foreigners moving to Costa Rica are taking this route.  However, there are a few tips we’ve learned through trial and error, along the way:

  1. The developer wants to sell land–duh!  He or she may not care about what you care about such as resale value, whether someone else may block your view when they build, etc.
  2. Putting in roads and/or utiilties after the sale can be a problem.  Developers, who have yet to put in utilities or roads may promise them at some date but remember they are often at the whim of the local authorities, have other priorities (such as selling more land), so be careful!  Try to understand in detail what the plan is and even find a good friend who speaks Spanish to check directly with the authorities.  See if what the developer is telling you is actually true.
  3. Don’t buy a property you have not seen in person! This is probably a “no-brainer” but actually many people do buy properties this way.  It’s just asking for trouble!
  4. You many not be able to build what you’d like to build on the lot you buy.  For a variety of reasons including topology, local laws, etc., what you thought you could build may not be possible.  Certainly discuss your plans with the developer and definitely discuss with competent surveyors and local issues, before buying the land.
  5. Who’s going to be building near you?  It’s definitely important to get a sense of what will go on around your land?  Zoning laws are fuzzy at best here so try to find out what’s happening in your area.  You probably don’t want a nightclub next door!
  6. Pre-construction can be risky. Sometimes pre-construction pricing signals that the developer doesn’t have all the cash need to finish the project–put in roads, utilities and even get the homes built.  Understand his/her financing and future plans–and try to confirm with others.
  7. Others many benefit if you have to put in utilities.  If you end up paying for the installation of utilities, which could be $20,000 or more, the developer benefits as the price of his/her other lots go up.  He or she makes additional profits while you are stuck with the cost of the utilities.  Any developer worth his/her salt will put in the utilities for you–at his/her expense!
  8. How’s the weather?  An area where you want to build a home may look terrific in the summer/dry season, but what’s it like in the rainy season?  Does it flood every year?  Will you like the amount or rain, temperature, and wind in the rainy season?  Definitely ask lots of questions.

These are just some of the issues to watch out for, but in general, verify and confirm everything!  Good luck!


Cultural Adjustments

When you move to a new country, where nothing is known and familiar, your routines get mightily disrupted. Suddenly, nothing is routine. The loss of routine means the time and energy that was available for higher order, more sophisticated tasks now goes to basic coping and survival functions. With the minutiae of everyday life now demanding much of your conscious attention (these higher order functions) either get put aside or take much longer to accomplish.
The loss of routine hits you at your core. You expect to have to learn how to do new things overseas and even new ways of doing familiar things, but you may be surprised to discover that you have to learn to do things you normally do without thinking.
The problem with routines is that until you?ve reestablished them, you can have a very low opinion of yourself. If something this simple can be so difficult, then what am I going to do about something that?s genuinely difficult?
As you face the difficulties of your early months abroad, you will need the kind of unconditional acceptance and support only close friends and family members can provide; you need people who will listen to your tirades about the country and the natives without judging, people with whom you can fall apart without being embarrassed or worrying about what they might think. Your spouse may be available for this purpose, of course, but he or she may be looking to you for the same support. Whenever possible, you should plan to fall apart on different days from your spouse.


Family in Costa Rica

The culture is still generally conservative and retains the ?machismo? system. Men and women are expected to act differently from each other, and to respect their roles. While a large proportion of Costa Rican women are professionals and hold important positions in both businesses and the government, most still retain some traditional practices.

Costa Ricans are reverent Catholics, as are most Latin Americans. A host of evangelical churches emerged in the 1970’s, but nearly 80 percent of the population remains Catholic (even though only about 20 percent of the Catholics attend mass regularly).

Young people don’t usually leave home when they go to university but stay with their parents until they are married. Children often join parents for social engagements. Parents often join the children for birthday parties. Most birthday parties include siblings and parents of the child invited and this is to be expected when receiving an invitation unless otherwise stated.

Father is head of the household as in the traditional family system. He is the decision-maker; the authority figure and often taking prime responsibility for decisions for those that are subordinate to them.

Extended family is very important in Costa Rica . Often grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles are all part of the extended family, helping out other family members when needed.
Nepotism is widely acceptable in business in Costa Rica as well. The owner of a company will often employ family members and close friends. Family reputation may be important to the establishment of business relationships.
Family ties are still very strong, and traditions revolve around the family from the moment of birth to that of death. Some immensely important family traditions are baptisms, first communions, engagement parties, weddings and funerals, which are attended by the extended family as well as by friends and their family members.


Costa Rican Food

Costa Rica food is a fusion cuisine. It combines elements of culinary traditions from Africa, Italy, France, China, and Spain, flavored by traditional grains (rice, corn, and beans), roots (cassava, taro roots, sweet potatoes), spices (coriander, garlic, annatto, saffron, parsley, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper), oils (olive oil, vegetable oil, and lard), sauces (Lizano, Soy, and Worcestershire), fresh fruit, and vegetables. The food is mild to slightly seasoned.

The most common dishes that reflect the rural culture and are served in typical food restaurants are Gallo Pinto (Spotted Rooster) and Casados (Married.) Gallo Pinto consists of rice and beans seasoned with coriander, onions and Worcestershire sauce usually served for breakfast with scramble or fried eggs and a cup of Agua Dulce (pure sugar cane diluted in hot water) or coffee. Casado consists of white rice, black or red beans served with pork, steak, or chicken, a small portion of cabbage/lettuce & tomato salad, and fried plantains. All is served in one dish for lunch or dinner with a refreshment or coffee.

Traditional food goes beyond Gallo Pinto and Casados. You can delight yourself with more main dishes, drinks, tapas, and desserts. Popular main dishes are Arroz Guacho (sticky rice,) higado en salsa (beef liver salsa,) Escaveche (chicken escaveche,) pozole, ceviche, Arroz con Pollo (chicken rice), Papas con Chorizo (Chorizo sausage with potatoes,) Frito (Pork Stew) Olla de Carne, Barbudos (String bean omelet,) and Mondongo (Beef Stomach Soup.)

Common refreshments are Horchata (Ground Rice & Cinnamon Drink), Pinolillo (Corn Cocoa Drink,) or Resbaladera (Rice & Barley Drink.)

Common tapas are Platanos Maduros (Fried Ripe Plantains), Platanos asados (Baked Ripe Plantains), Pejibayes (Peach Palm), Picadillo de Chayote con Elote (Minced Vegetable Pear with Corn), Picadillo de Papaya Verde (Minced Green Papaya), and Picadillo de Vainicas (Minced String Beans with Beef.)

Common desserts are queque seco (Orange Pound Cake), Torta Chilena, Miel de Chiverre (Sweet White Spaghetti Squash), Tres Leches, Arroz con leche (rice pudding,) Dulce de Leche, and Suspiros (Maringues.)


These guys want to have YOU over for dinner

Few views are grander than the universe laid out across a clear Costa Rican sky. But as you take in the magnificence, the no-see-ums are munching on your body.

The little flying insects are common in Costa Rica from the highest mountain to the most deserted beach. They reward their dinner guests with bites that itch like crazy and last for days.

But a little study shows that some of these creatures also are responsible for pollinating cocoa trees. No bugs, no cocoa pods and no chocolate. The larva is as hungry as the adult female and dines on certain water pests.

Spanish speakers call these pests, purrujas, zancudos or beechas and English speakers know them as midges, sand flies or no-see-ums because they almost always get away without being seen. Some are so small that they fit through screens that stop bigger insects. Sometimes they swarm.

Generally the biting flies resemble mosquitoes. Some bite during the day, and many do so at night. But like the mosquito, it always is the female. The male may be out pollinating cocoa trees.

The insects should really be called chewing flies because the female injects a little saliva into the small wound to help keep the blood flowing. Several hours later the bite turns into a small red spot that itch intensely.

Some tropical species can transmit diseases of tiny worms, so repellent and tight-fitting clothes are recommended. Some species are not put off by bug spray.

Clear nights and a lot of outdoor activity increases the exposure of humans to these flies, although each only has a short lifespan, perhaps two weeks. But there seldom seems to be a shortage.

Around dwellings, eliminating stagnant water and decaying vegetable matter where the larvae dwell, according to entomologists at the University of Georgia can reduce the number of biting flies.


Factors Important to Successful Intercultural Adjustments

  1. Open Mindedness… The ability to keep one’s opinions flexible and receptive to new stimuli seems to be important to intercultural adjustment.
  2. Sense of Humor… A sense of humor is important because in another culture there are many things which lead one to weep, get angry, be annoyed, embarrassed, or discouraged. The ability to laugh off things will help guard against despair.
  3. Ability to Cope with Failure… The ability to tolerate failure is critical because everyone fails at something overseas. Persons who go overseas are often those who have been the most successful in their home environments and have rarely experienced failure, thus, may have never developed ways of coping with failure.
  4. Communicativeness… The ability and willingness to communicate one’s feelings and thoughts to others, verbally or non-verbally, has been suggested as an important skill for successful intercultural communicators.
  5. Flexibility and Adaptability… The ability to respond to or tolerate the ambiguity of new situations is very important to intercultural success. Keeping options open and judgmental behavior to a minimum describes an adaptable or flexible person.
  6. Curiosity… Curiosity is the demonstrated desire to know about other people, places, ideas, etc. This skill or personality trait is important for intercultural travelers because they need to learn many things in order to adapt to their new environment.
  7. Positive and Realistic Expectations… It has been shown frequently that there are strong correlations between positive expectations for an intercultural experience and successful adjustment overseas.
  8. Tolerance for Differences and Ambiguities… A sympathetic understanding for beliefs or practices differing from one’s own is important to successful intercultural adjustment.
  9. Positive Regard for Others… The ability to express warmth, empathy, respect, and positive regard for other persons has been suggested as an important component of effective intercultural relations.
  10. A Strong Sense of Self… A clear, secure feeling about oneself results in individuals who are neither weak nor overbearing in their relations with others. Persons with a strong sense of themselves stand up for what they believe but do not cling to those beliefs regardless of new information, perspectives, or understandings which they may encounter.


Culture of Costa Rica

Costa Ricans culture is a rich mixture of many different cultures.  Costa Rica is an isthmus between North and South America and touches both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts.  A wide variety of people and cultures make up the nation, due to its contact with many different places. Costa Ricans ideals are based on peace, education and democracy.  Costa Rica is unique in its humanitarian values.  It is a people oriented country in which they strive to provide every person with basic human rights such as health care and education.

Costa Rica’s current population is approximately three and a half million people.  The growth rate averages at 2.3% and is not decreasing.  This population is unique to other Latin American countries in the whiteness of the population.  The 1989 census classified 98% as white or mestizo and 2% of the people black or indigenous.

Class also tents to be relatively homogenous in the nation.  Most people fit into the middle class.  Extreme poverty exists, but is minor compared to neighboring countries.  When measured by the standards of a developed country Costa Ricans average income is very low, but proves to be much better than other Latin countries in both salaries and earnings.  The upper class is still considered to be extremely elite.

Costa Rica has a tradition of making education a priority.  They view education as the path to prosperity.  One of the first acts Costa Rica established after gaining independence was to create the University of Santo Tomas.  In 1825 a law mandated the formation of public schools in all of the municipalities.  Immediately after Costa Rica gained its independence it began to make education and priority and a right for all people.

Currently four public universities have been established and the government funds them nearly completely.  One quarter of the universities students pay no tuition; students are charged on a sliding scale relative to their family’s income.

The university system is also very unique in its community service requirements.  There is a 150-hour community service requirement to receive your Bachelors degree and 300-hour requirement to receive your Masters degree.  In 1995, public high schools also adopted a community service requirement of 30 hours in order to receive their high school diploma.  These requirements are designed to inspire service and thanks to ones country.


What it takes to move your beloved pets to Costa Rica

If your thinking of bringing you pets to Costa Rica, don?t think that it?s too much trouble and re-home your pets because it?s not a difficult or expensive process. When we moved here we brought 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 birds and of course our 3 children. It seems we just about had the plane full just with our baggage alone.

To insure that you handle the process correctly, read what we have to say and follow it to the T so that you don?t have any problems upon your arrival in Costa Rica.

Rules can change but we keep on top of these changes so before you get ready to travel with your pets contact us a few weeks before to be certain there are no changes that will affect you. Note: Do NOT rely on the airlines to give you the information that you need to make this trip with the pets because more times than not they will give you conflicting and wrong information, and that can make for a mess when trying to leave or arrive in Costa Rica.

If you follow the rules we have set out below, you will breeze through customs and immigration without any problems!

There is no quarantine on dogs, cats, or birds provided you have the right documentation. If you don?t, your pets will be taken from you at customs and put into a MINAE approved quarantine facility guaranteed.

What you need is for your dog/cat to be current on all of their vaccinations. They must be administered within one year at the time of travel. Rabies vaccination MUST be over 30 days old and under 1 year at the time of travel. You cannot enter Costa Rica with a 3-year rabies vaccine. Your animal will be put in quarantine if you attempt this.

You will need health certificates from your veterinarian including proof of rabies. You will also need form 7001 from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) signed by the State Veterinarian certifying that all vaccinations have been administered and your animal is in good health, Your vet should know all about this but some don?t have the form in their office. They can get this from the USDA or contact GACR and we can give you the office where you can get the form. Easiest is for your vet to acquire this form.

At present, this paperwork does not need to be validated by the Costa Rican embassy in the US but this can change at any time so check with GACR for the current rules regarding this.

Your vet should know the immunizations required for shipping pets internationally. If he/she doesn’t, contact GACR for the specifics and we would be happy to help.

There are pet embargo?s (Summer embargo is from May to September) during the very hot and very cold seasons (usually January and February) of the year. This is for your pets protection but often times we can find ways around this by flying very early or very late in the day to avoid the extreme heat issues. There is not much we can do about the embargo?s because of the cold, there are just several months where it is difficult to fly your pets so planning ahead is very, VERY important. Check with GACR to see if these dates will affect you and your time of travel and how we can possibly work around it. It is always best to plan your departure to avoid these dates.

Airlines are often NOT current on the rules of importation of animals, especially those that work the counters at airports. They CAN and WILL deny boarding for the DUMBEST of reasons, and often they are completely WRONG. If you get into a conflict with a ticket person, ask to speak to their supervisor. Often times, this will get a quick resolution to your problem, and if you have your wits about you and insist that you know what you are talking about, this goes a long way.

A recent incident with American Airlines where they were insistent that you had to have the health certificates authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate. Only after speaking to a supervisor or two was my client allowed to board. They went to the Consulate and were told they did not need authentication and passed this information onto the supervisor, which in turn allowed them on the plane.

Continental Airlines at present is the most pet friendly airlines (in our opinion) but you cannot ship them as excess baggage. They will need to go cargo or what they call quick-pack service. Provided you are on the same plane with your pets, you can pick them up in the special baggage area of the airport. If you cannot fly with your pets, you will need to send them as cargo and you will need a customs broker and agent to help clear customs. Contact GACR for more information on this if this is your only alternative.

Delta is very good about flying pets and will even allow you to take them onboard as under the seat baggage provided they are small enough. The fee is rather steep for an international flight but sometimes people opt to go this route so that their pets can ride with them in the cabin.

A quick reminder?Three weeks before you are ready to travel, recheck the current rules with GACR, your relocation specialist to make sure they have not changed.

If you want to bring in birds, this requires an extra amount of paperwork and permissions from the government of the U.S. and Costa Rica. These permits can take up to 90 days to obtain so you must plan ahead if you plan to bring your pet birds with you. Check with GACR for current information well before travel time.