What is the Costa Rica Government Like?

Message from Nick Halverson

One of the first questions that is asked by prospective customers of ours is about the Costa Rican government. Typically one of the following is asked:

  • What type of government does Costa Rica have? Is Costa Rica a democracy? What is the Costa Rica government like?
  • Is the government stable?

The following information should give anyone who is interested in owning or investing in Costa Rica the peace of mind that it is a great place to own real estate, to visit or to retire in.

What type of government does Costa Rica have? Is it stable?  

costa rica flag

Costa Rica flag.

Costa Rica is a democracy. Their current form of government is based off the 1949 Costa Rica Constitution that was written in response to World War II and a small Civil War where 2,000 people died (or about the same number of shooting victims every year in Chicago, IL, USA). The Constitution of 1949 abolishes the military, provides public education, public healthcare and provides all the same rights to foreigners as citizens – including the ability to own fully titled property (unlike Mexico)!

In fact, because Costa Rica does not have a military (or air force), the government is free to spend more money on education. Costa Rican’s are some of the best educated people in the world with literacy rates over 95% and an increasing rate of bilingual (English and Spanish) citizens. I have noticed a big difference in the number of people who speak English over the past decade.

The people elect the President through a popular vote. This makes sense given the geographic size of Costa Rica (size of West Virginia) and its population ~ 5 million.

A piece of history: when the United States Constitution was signed in 1787, the population in the USA was around 4 million people.

Costa Rica is home to one of the longest lasting democracies in the world.  Costa Rica’s independence began in 1848 when Dr. Castro Madriz signed documents separating Costa Rica from the Central American Federation, and formed the Republic of Costa Rica.

The people of Costa Rica are proud of their democracy and their political party system is very fluid. Unlike the United States

Nick Halverson Rosibel Ramos Madrigal Hanz Cruz

Hanz Cruz, Diputada Rosibel Ramos Madrigal and Nick Halverson, inside Dpta Madrigal’s office at the Costa Rican Congress

where there is only two political parties that influence policy, in Costa Rica there are over a dozen. In fact, for the the 2018 federal elections, there are 16 political parties!!! This means that when the people of Costa Rica are frustrated with the policies being made, they don’t simply sit around and complain, they actively form new parties and then actively campaign for support.

Costa Rica has a unicameral Congress. This simply means they have one group of people in their Congress. By way of comparison, the United States of America has a bicameral Congress (two chambers in the legislative branch: Senate and the House of Representatives). Costa Rica’s Congress has 57 members (called ‘diputados’) and they are the highest ranking members of the legislative branch. I have visited the Congress several times and enjoy seeing democracy in action.

I have met two President’s of Costa Rica and the experiences were exactly what you might think they would be if you’ve spent any time in Costa Rica. Very relaxed, informal and pleasant. President Arias was at an inauguration ceremony where the government was opening a new water system for a community. I was invited by our Project Manager, Hanz Cruz, to the event who was there on official business as Vice-Mayor of the region. After the formalities, Hanz invited me to meet President Arias. I was nervous since I had never met a President of a country before, and I had seen plenty of videos of what it’s like simply shaking hands with the President of the United States in a public setting with all of the security in black suites keeping everyone away. In Costa Rica, it was just the opposite. President Arias was standing still, shaking

Nick Halverson Oscar Arias

Nick Halverson and President Oscar Arias when Arias was President.

hands and talking with constituents. There was one person next to him with a coiled wire leading to his ear (like you see in the movies) providing protection, but this one man couldn’t stop the hundreds of people that were there if something went wrong. Hanz moved me next to the President and introduced me in Spanish. They spoke for about 30 seconds and then President Arias turned to me and in perfect English asked, “What do you think of Costa Rica? Would you like a photo?”

We spoke for about 30 seconds, had a photo taken with him, and he moved on. I was amazed how accessible, easy going and friendly he and his team were. His English was perfect – he had taught at Oxford University after all.

The second experience I had was with a former President who I met at a restaurant during a private party. He didn’t have any security with him and if you didn’t know who he was, you would have thought he was just another patron. I love politics, so I took the opportunity to get a photo with him too!

Hanz Cruz Luis Guillermo Solis

Hanz Cruz (left), Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis and Perez Zeledon Mayor Jefry Montoya meet to discuss growth plans for the region (2017)

Our Project Manager Hanz Cruz is currently (2017) the President of San Isidro del General, Perez Zeledon, San Jose, Costa Rica, ‘Consejo’ (City Council). In this capacity he routinely has meetings with high-ranking officials, and recently had a meeting with the current President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis. During the meeting they discussed numerous topics, including tourism in the area.

Costa Rica is a wonderful place to live, with an extremely strong democracy, making a perfect place to own real estate.

Mr Halverson Goes to San Jose to Visit the Costa Rica Congress

Last week my project manager, Hanz Cruz, and I spent an afternoon in San Jose where we

Hanz Cruz Rosibel Madrigal Halverosn

Las Villas de San Buenas Project Manager Hanz Cruz, and CEO Nick Halverson meet with Deputada Rosibel Ramos Madrigal at the Costa Rica Congress.

visited the Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa), Costa Rica’s Congressional body.  Costa Rica has an unicameral legislative structure (a single chamber. By way of comparison the USA has two – the House of Representatives and the Senate). A member of Congress is called a Deputado (Deputada if a woman) – which translates to ‘Senator’.

Costa Rica has 57 Deputados, who are all elected every four years. Deputados do not have term limits, although they cannot serve consecutive terms. Once a Deputado’s four-year term expires, they must sit out an entire four-year election cycle before they can serve again.

We spent approximately one hour talking with a couple of Deputados. We first met with Deputada Rosibel Madrigal, who represents the region including San Isidro del General/Perez Zeledon areas of San Jose province. Next we met with Gerardo Vargas Rojas who represents the province of Puntarenas.

We discussed tourism, increasing foreign investment and I pushed to know more about the possible international airport in Osa (still being reviewed).

I have always found it beneficial during my career in New Zealand and Australia to meet face-to-face

Costa Rica Asamblea Nacional

Founding members of Costa Rica’s first Congress in 1949 (photo by Nick Halverson with Google Glass)

with government officials to ensure they are aware of our project as well as we are kept abreast of any potential changes. We will continue to meet with officials quarterly.

It was an enjoyable day and everyone we met with was friendly and hospitable. I’ll keep everyone updated on our future visits – and the Southern zone international airport.

Nick Halverson
CEO, Las Villas de San Buenas

Costa Rica Message from Management Oct 2009

nick2 The last couple of months have been very busy in Costa Rica, Sol Property Group and The Village of San Buenas. I’ll highlight a few events that were very memorable.

August
Back in August I spent a day with Rodrigo Arias (Costa Rican Secretary of State), Jorge Eduardo Sanchez (Deputado or “Senator”), Rosibel Madrigal (Mayor of San Isidro) and Hanz Cruz (Deputy Mayor of San Isidro). I spent the day taking photos, attending a private lunch with 50 business owners and executives from some of the country’s largest banks and largest companies. The event was to announce government loans for farmers of mora, coffee and sugar cane in the area.

Rodrigo Arias, Dept. Jorge Eduardo Sanchez, Nick Halverson

Rodrigo Arias, Dept. Jorge Eduardo Sanchez, Nick Halverson

Ribbon cutting event at new bridge outside San Isidro

Ribbon cutting event at new bridge outside San Isidro

Later a group of us jumped into a handful of cars, including the security detail, and drove to several new bridges for “ribbon-cutting” events. At each bridge Secretary of State Arias and Rosibel each made a small speech. Click here to see photos of this event. It was a great day and culminated in a BBQ at Tres Jotas new meat processing plant in San Isidro. It was the best ‘carne’ (meat) I’ve had in Costa Rica. 

September
We had a honeymooning couple from the United States spend a week in/around The Village of San Buenas. They had never left the United States before so I was

 hoping they would enjoy Costa Rica as much as I did. I needn’t worry. They had a blast! They enjoyed whale watching (they saw three), eating at various

A beautiful day in September 2009, San Isidro del General, Costa Rica

A beautiful September day in San Isidro del General, Costa Rica

restaurants and watching (and hearing the howler monkeys!) all of the beauty the zone has to offer. They are already planning their next visit in 2011.

I drove on the highway from Dominical to Quepos—wow! What a difference! They are close to finishing the entire stretch with approximately 2 miles to finish paving and the installation of two bridges. I believe they will easily hit their December 31, 2009 target date. What used to take up to two hours is now an enjoyable, easy 45 minute drive. When completed it will be around 35 minutes.

October
I still believe that Costa Rica’s rainy season (September – October) is one of the most overrated ‘non-event’ in Costa Rica. Generally speaking the mornings are very beautiful with 5:30 am sunrises and the afternoon showers start around 2:30 pm. It is the coolest time of year to visit and the number of tourists is very low as well. Don’t overlook visiting next October. I think you will be pleastantly surprised.

Village of San Buenas
Demand for the Village of San Buenas continues to increase. The last 90 days have been very busy with numerous lot sales and with water and electricity now available in certain areas of the project we have seen an increase in demand. We are planning on raising prices December 1, 2009. If you have every thought about visiting The Village of San Buenas, in the South Pacific region of Costa Rica, or if you have every thought of owning Costa Rica real estate now is a great time to act.

  • We have updated our masterplan to give a better representation of the beautiful development. Check it out here.
  • We have added a link to over 300 photos in Flickr. Check out the photos here – don’t forget to click on the Flickr logo to see them all.
  • 3749387103_25a3c5cc7dWe have installed the first set of electrical poles and 1,000 meters of electricity lines on “main street”. Now in the evening you can see the development lit up by the street lights. Given all of the new laws and regulations regarding developments, this is a great feeling to get accomplished. Click here for more photos
  • We have planted over 300 new plants, flowers and shrubs.
  • We have a professional agronomist making weekly visits to oversee the planting and re-seeding of the development.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica continues to make tremendous progress in terms of infrastructure improvements.

  • There is continued dialog regarding the new international airport in the Southern zone. I believe it is still five years away from becoming a reality, but I will send an update immediately if anything changes.
  • The government will begin construction on a large hydro-electric project starting in the next twelve months that will generate 608 Megawatts of electricity – enough to power over 480,000 homes. In a country of 4.3 million people (not homes) this is a huge project and is projected to become operational in 2016. This project is located approximately 10 miles from your project.
  • The road from Dominical to Quepos is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009. I drove on it on September 20th and it was amazing. What used to take between 90 – 120 minutes only took 45 minutes. When the final four miles are completed and the last two bridges are replaced it should take approximately 35 minutes. This will completely open up the Southern zone of Costa Rica. I feel that it will increase demand of this region of the country. Up to this point most visitors rarely made it south of Quepos.
  • The highway between San Jose and Jaco is scheduled for completion in fall 2010.
  • The airport in Liberia (Guanacaste) is getting a $35 million facelift.
  • San Jose International Airport (SJO) is now being managed by an investment group out of Houston. It is currently under an expansion plan.

Sol Property Group
We have added Twitter and YouTube channels and updates. Please be sure to follow us there for the most current updates, photos and videos. We also continue to blog several times a week on the official Sol Property Group Blog.Follow us on Twitter

If you ever thought about visiting Costa Rica or buying real estate in Costa Rica now is a great time. We have lots starting at $19,900, condos starting at $75,000 and houses starting at $89,900. Now is the time to act. Also, The Village of San Buenas is going to be raising prices December 1 – lock in your savings today!

Sincerely,
Nick Halverson