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Moving from Chicago to Costa Rica: I’m hooked

Moving from Chicago to Costa Rica: I'm hookedI’d like to tell you how I got hooked to Costa Rica. Let me introduce myself. My name is Kathy D. Peterson and I’m from Chicago.

My Costa Rican real estate agent asked me to tell you about my experience of moving to Costa Rica in 2006.

As I recall my personal experience with the purchase of property on foreign soil, several tips come to mind.

What I consider to be the most important is “know thy self”.  Are you planning to make Costa Rica your permanent home or a 2nd home for frequent “escapes”?  If your plan is permanent relocation to Costa Rica? Then, examine your current lifestyle and be honest with yourself regarding services, conveniences, and accesses that are important to you.

A week-long stay in the rainforest is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of every day. However, I felt it would not work as my choice for everyday living into the future.  Why?  While the weather does not particularly “spoil” anyone from Chicago, accessibility does. So how did I get hooked? Bear with me.

An adventure or a miserable situation?

I recognized that in my advancing, less flexible years, a few things would become increasingly important:

  • access to grocery stores,
  • restaurants,
  • entertainment,
  • medical care,
  • friends,
  • cable TV,
  • reliable electricity
  • and the internet.

What may seem like an adventure at 55 or 60, could be a miserable situation at 70 or 75.  If it’s water and very warm temperatures that give you peace, the Costa Rican coasts are for you but if you are looking for all those amenities I just mentioned, you need to do your due diligence well.

Moving from Chicago to Costa Rica: I'm hooked

Your real estate agent

An experienced Costa Rica real estate agent is a must.  I would suggest one that has also made his or her transition to Costa Rica from another country.  Their personal experience regarding the relocation process and assimilation into another culture can be invaluable pearls of wisdom.  I cannot speak highly enough of the professional service provided by real estate expert Ivo Henfling.  Ivo patiently showed me several houses, home listings that I had printed from the internet from home before my first departure to Costa Rica.

There were several sources of discomfort that immediately evaporated as we started looking at condos.  I had bought and sold about 7 residential condos since graduating from college and found this Costa Rican multi-family living very much within my “comfort zone”.  Now I was hooked. And, it remains so today.

Moving from Chicago to Costa Rica: I'm hooked

Condo developer

Ivo’s portfolio of professional referrals was also beneficial.  He facilitates a smooth purchase process for a condo under construction from the ground up. This took one year from date of the contract to close.

The closing was a breeze.  Fortunately, the developer of my condo has a sound reputation and completed the project as promised and on schedule.  Unfortunately, this is too often the exception, rather than the rule in Costa Rica giving cause to re-emphasize an experienced realtor.


The ARCR (Association of Residents of Costa Rica) offers an all-day or 2-days seminar covering a smorgasbord of topics on relocating to Costa Rica.  Attending one of these seminars early in your consideration of Costa Rica could perhaps tip the scale one way or the other for you.  Learning about insurance and how it works in the event of an auto accident gave me the clarity I was seeking regarding car ownership in Costa Rica. This seminar helped me tremendously to get hooked.

Moving from Chicago to Costa Rica: I'm hooked

Do your homework

There are many resources available and plenty of expats with advice:

  • Be smart, be cautious.
  • You are responsible for watching your own back.
  • Do your homework.
  • Finger-pointing, the blame game and/or threatening legal action get you nowhere in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is one of the most charming, beautiful places in the world. I’m hooked.

The Author

Yours truly,
Kathy D. Peterson

Feel free to leave your comments on this blog. If you like this article, please feel free to share it on your social media.

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While we’re at it, I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Finally, please remember the American-European real estate Group’s agents when you refer a real estate agent. Because we DO appreciate your business.

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