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173 Where Interior Designers think you should invest in a vacation rental in Costa Rica

173 Where Interior Designers think you should invest in a vacation rental in Costa Rica
173 Where Interior Designers think you should invest in a vacation rental in Costa Rica

Podcast Transcription

Transcription:

[Richard Bexon]
Good afternoon guys, how are you doing?

[Kristal Echeverria]
Good afternoon, we're doing very good, thank you. Hi Richard. Hey Grace.

[Richard Bexon]
Absolute pleasure, thanks very much for taking time out of what I know is a very busy day for you guys in the design world at, you know, this time of year. You know, we're delivering quite a few houses, so I'm sure that you guys are pretty busy finishing up a few things before the up and coming high season as well. But my first question for you, which I'd love to get an idea is, you know, everybody's trying to get an understanding of how, what's happening in the market here in Costa Rica.

They understand that, you know, in North America, you know, things are quieting down a little bit with regards to real estate, prices are dropping a little bit just because of interest rates. But I mean, how would you say that your volume of business in the last couple of months has been compared to, you know, the previous that or this time last year? Just give the listeners an idea of like how the volume of work is looking from your guys' side.

[Kristal Echeverria]
Okay, we have very two active, the few last years have been super active for us. We've been some of our biggest projects and definitely there's been a slowdown, but I don't see it as bad because I personally needed it. The company needed it also because to keep things in order and the way we like to handle things.

And it also has been because we dedicated so much time to the projects we were in, involved a hundred percent that we actually had to say to some projects, no. It's not that we're on full stop, not at all, but it's not the rush that we lived in the previous two years. And also what we've seen is that clients are asking, are a little bit more concerned about how much they spend their money.

And which I understand, I always tell my team, you know, we deal with highly intelligent clients. That's why they have money. So we are always, we don't take for granted that intelligence and maybe they ask a little bit more.

They want to know what really can add value to their projects. And we're happy to answer all those questions. I have a background in finance and economics as well.

So I do understand that. And I do understand that point of view. And I also love the design part.

And I'm also very involved in that sense, but I try to mix both views. So regarding the interest rates, of course, that has affected people in terms of, it's not, okay, you can have a very wealthy individual and, but they like leverage, you know, and they like, we were in some years of, let's say a little bit of free money and easier money to get. And it was for them easier to say, to call the shots.

And now they're thinking it a little bit more. It doesn't mean they're not interested because they are. Costa Rica has always been very attractive.

And I think that in any type of scenario, because I think about that a lot myself, what happened with the US elections, what's going on with the world, you know, I think in any case, Costa Rica will always be benefit from it because we are perceived and we are a paradise in which people can come and kind of like, you know, take their mind a little bit away from what's going on in the world. And it is still a very attractive country to invest in. It is still a country in which prices, you know, compared to big cities in the States or compared to real estate in the States or Europe, it's still kind of fair priced.

It's not very well ordered, but it's still very fair price.

[Richard Bexon]
I think there's beauty in that disorganization though.

[Kristal Echeverria]
Yes, yes, yes, me too.

[Richard Bexon]
If you were to compare it to 2019, because I think that this is where it was, I mean, you know, 2020, because we had the pandemic and then 21, 22, which was just, as you said, an era of free money. If you were to compare 2019 to 2023, how do they look to you? Is 2023 higher?

Is it about the same? Is it lower?

[Kristal Echeverria]
I think it's about the same. It's about the same as 2019. In terms of there are a lot of and also there were a lot of investments that are closing up.

You know, you've seen a lot of hotels that they just reopened and they just did the renovations. You've seen a lot of people also, you know, that they just build their houses. But I think during 22 and 23, it's been a little bit of a gold rush.

Let's say people were going insane and there were so many houses being built, which I say it's a little bit tricky because there were a lot of people that surely they made a lot of money, but from an investment point of view, maybe they weren't doing it the right way. And it was, I've also heard about some problems going on in that sense. So my point of view in general in life is despacio porque tengo prisa, you know, it's slowly because I want to be fast.

So I don't agree with, I never push the client. Like I always tell them, okay, when you're ready.

[Richard Bexon]
Yep. Well, and also I think that's a great viewpoint in Costa Rica as well, because don't force or rush anything in Costa Rica, because a lot of the time that's where mistakes can be made. I mean, just in general in life, but especially here in Costa Rica of when you try and force something, you know, and I have many clients, you know, investors that were just like, rich, whenever I forced investments, I've lost money when they've come very well is when I've like made money.

[Kristal Echeverria]
I concur with that, you know, and I think it's everything happens at the right time. And also everything has the right process and it has to follow the right process. I'm always very keen in that.

And even in areas that we're not involved, you know, like pyramids and do the due diligence in the land. And because a lot of people can come and speak to your ear and promise you the moon and the stars, but then unfortunately, and because we've had a lot of experience in this, we've seen clients really hitting a wall because it's not what they promised them. So I always encourage clients to follow the right path and to do the right due diligence in their properties and in their process for their projects.

[Richard Bexon]
I was about to ask you what advice you'd give that you'd give people investing in Costa Rica, but it sounds like get good due diligence. But my question is this, you know, a lot of people rely on, on, on realtors for due diligence. Like who do you go to, to make, to fact check?

Everything can check everything. Like I have a way to do it, which is like typically a lot of people hire us to do their due diligence for them. And just like, you know, which a lot of people hate because like, we're a pain in the butt.

Like we go into, you know, explicit detail on their project and what they can do and what they can't do. But like, who do people turn to? Because otherwise they're putting all this faith in one person.

[Kristal Echeverria]
I think it's a team. I will never put my faith in one single person because I think it's a team of professionals. You need to have a trusted lawyer and you need to be very, very careful.

The lawyer you pick, you know, I'm Costa Rican. And I think that because I'm Costa Rican, I can speak about it, but I've seen a lot of lawyers doing like very shady things for their clients. So, so if you ask me, I only trust one lawyer.

I'm not going to say his name because I don't want to be like this, but you need to be really, really careful about the lawyer you pick, because I've heard stories like terrible stories of even lawyers, like stealing the land and doing like shady things. And it's possible. And, and, you know, we talk about Costa Rica and peace and love and this is an amazing country, but you also have very bad people on it.

So you really need to be very careful about that. Then I'll definitely also get involved somebody that knows about the environment, you know, and all the process with the ministry of environment here and, and the water and, and all those things that people, they don't really tell them about. And when somebody is trying to buy a property, maybe the realtor won't say it because they want to sell it.

So, but it's important to understand that, you know, I always say to people, I haven't found, you know, the three B's, bueno, bonito, y barato. When you find that always doubt, and there's always like something shady going behind it. So, so be very careful about that.

And then the other thing, I think it's very important to have a project manager, a project manager here in Costa Rica. We've done it ourselves. It's not something that we, we do all the time.

We've done it for certain really clients that ask us to, to do that. And it's not, it's not that we're the project managers per se, maybe we can recommend someone, but let's say we're the trusted person with their funds and their money, because again, there's, you know, it's like a gold rush here. People are going, everybody's going, everybody's a real estate agent, everybody's a contractor now.

And it's a little bit of what happened in 2007 before the crisis hit. And I think we're a very similar point that if you're not dealing with people that know what they're doing or that have pockets to, you know, if they do a mistake to, to, to be able to, how can I say it?

[Richard Bexon]
To cover that mistake or like it, I mean, some people can't afford to make that mistake.

[Kristal Echeverria]
Exactly. And, and, and there are not in some of those people because they can, they just will hide and go away and leave your project there. I've seen that.

So I think it's very important to have a good lawyer, again, somebody that knows about environment and that can tell you, okay, what do you really, what can you really do in that piece of land and a good project management that can handle the funds and can handle the whole team and can coordinate? Because construction, it's also very overwhelming here and, and we, it's okay. It's beautiful.

I love it. I think that if you have a great team, you've seen great projects here and great results, but it's tricky. So it's good to have a good team that have your back in that sense.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. I look, I complete, I mean, we project manage, I think we've got about 30 projects on at the moment. So, you know, we're having to clean up a lot of mess that other people have made where, you know, contractors on the bid something and they'd be like, look, I've run out of money and they've got 70% through and the client's like, well, you know, I want to sue the contractor.

And I'm like, well, it doesn't really kind of work like that in Costa Rica. Like you'd spend more money suing them in time than you would do just being like, look, let's draw a line here, figure out how much it's going to cost to finish your project, bring in other contractors to kind of bid on the project for you. And then like, make sure it gets done correctly.

But yeah, it's, it's, it is a bit of a shame that, that it's like that, but that's where I think it just goes back to the point, which you said there is you really need a good team, you know, so. Yes.

[Kristal Echeverria]
And you need to be very, you know, here there is wonderful people and I've seen a lot, a lot of talent here in Costa Rica. And, and that's why even, even if I'm not involved, somebody comes here and ask me and recommend me, if I see somebody doing a good job, I recommend them because I want my country, you know, to have a good reputation. I didn't want Costa Rica to be known as, you know, I had a terrible experience there.

And for some people to go back to their country and say, don't go there because they brought me, no, I hate actually when that happens because I'm very proud of being Costa Rican. And I think this is a country with great potential, but you have people that are to be, they are not honest and they will try to, to, to do shady things. I don't know how else to say it.

I'm very sorry.

[Richard Bexon]
That's a perfect way to say it. I mean, again, it just goes back to, you know, trust, but verify everything can make sure you have a great team. So what do you guys, just because a lot of people listening to this, what do you guys do?

Is it Mare? Is that how I would pronounce it in Spanish? Mare, right?

Mare Design in English, it would be Mare, which is very weird, but like Mare, how, how would you pronounce, how would you like define exactly what you guys do at Mare Design?

[Kristal Echeverria]
It's Mare and I would like Chris to, to answer that and then I can, I can add a little bit to it.

[Mar Echeverria]
Okay. So Mare Design Center. Yeah, it's Mare, like Mare, you know, in Italian C, but it came actually from Maria del Mar's idea of a shop in Italy that she saw a couple of years ago.

She can tell you later, but what do we do in the sense of explaining to the, get to your clients, we are not only an interior design firm, but we actually have construction finishes as well. So either someone can walk in, you know, finding precious stones or hardware or wood flooring or once the whole project. So from the initial design phase up until, you know, the completion of a turnkey project, we have been in the couple, in the, in the last couple of years, we have been focusing on that which has been, you know, what most clients need right now or nowadays.

And for example, I, I was based in Guanacaste. So I, I saw the need of, of people having to have these companies that would fix everything for them in terms of interior design and, and yeah, project management. And I guess this is something that still is up and coming in the area, because people are, you know, flying in, buying a land, having a meeting with the architect and the interior design and then going back to their original countries.

So they want someone trustable to do this work. And we have been collaborating with clients in the last years regarding that.

[Kristal Echeverria]
Just to add a little bit more to it. And I think I was explaining you that earlier, Richard, I started Mare because I've always been very passionate about good design and good quality products. And, you know, I'm an entrepreneur at heart.

I'm now 40 years old, but I worked since I'm 17. And I've always envisioned having my own company. My background, it's in business, my background, it's not in design, but I wanted to study when I was younger, fashion design, that didn't happen for X and Y.

So then when I had the opportunity to open a company, I said, okay, I love design. I love design. And I, I always say that I have something that it's not good, but I use it for the good.

So I have like OCD a little bit in certain things, you know, I like things very clean. I like things very neat. So, so I said, okay, I can use that disadvantage to the advantage.

So at the beginning, we started sourcing materials, you know, representing brands, mostly from Italy, but now we're sourcing from other parts of the world, other European countries, and also Brazil and place like that. So what we started doing was bringing some of the best brands we can find out there to Costa Rica, because what I've found out is that people were bringing third or fourth category brands, and they were telling to people, okay, that's the best brand in Europe, you know, and they were, it wasn't, it wasn't honest, it wasn't the truth. So, so I said, okay, what are the best architect using outside?

And how can I bring it to Costa Rica? So I started as every entrepreneur, you know, by myself, very, very little. And, and I think I started to comply, you know, and to promise what I promised what happened.

So, so clients started looking for us. Then as every company that was almost 12 years ago, as every single company, you know, it evolves. So clients started asking us for interior design services.

I've always been very honest with clients that I didn't study that, but they say, okay, no, but I like the way you, you do you and your team, because it's not only me, it's a whole team, you know, and we have a team of architects working with us. So they requested that for us. So that's how we also got involved in doing interior design.

So nowadays, we have different business models. We work with architects and also with interior designers, and they can come and buy from us. And we can sell to them.

And we also will assist them, you know, we don't want to be perceived as competition, because we're very respectful when a client comes with a already a designer. Okay, we don't mention that. And we are very respectful in that.

And then we can also if a client comes, and you know, it's the final client, and he doesn't really know where to go, we can guide them also with the interior design. And what we want to be it's like one stop shop. And we also realize that most of the clients, you know, or some of the clients or some of our best clients, they already have the brands that we represent in Costa Rica in their homes abroad.

And what they want is to have that same quality here. So so that's what we're basically doing. And we also have worked actually with a lot of firms from the with a lot of firms from the US or Europe interior design firms or architectural firms.

And we assist them also in tropicalizing the designs here because sometimes they can specify a product and it can look wonderful, you know, but it won't really work for for the weather here. So we try to guide them and we also help them with the logistics because imports here and it's kind of tricky also. So they let's say, yes, they say, let's say they want a product that we don't have.

And they are really keen in that product. We help them, you know, and and that's how our best relationships have built. We we try to build long lasting relationships and and assisting our clients in making the process smoother.

[Richard Bexon]
Well, I think you mentioned something there which is important, which I think every business should do, which is just listen to your client. I mean, they'll tell you what they need and like how your business should kind of evolve, you know, as long as it makes sense with your kind of general north of where you're going with that business, you know, that they're not like, hey, you should I don't know, you know, build it. You should get into construction where you're like, no, no, no, we stick in the design world, but like we can open up into that design world.

But like construction is construction.

[Kristal Echeverria]
That's different than, you know, kind of design, you know, because as you said, a lot of people now that you mentioned that I've had clients that tell me, can you do my house and can you do the exterior architecture? And I'm like, no, I don't do exterior architecture. Here is a list of architects, very different styles.

Pick one. These are the people that I can recommend or same with contractors and construction companies. But what we can do, because actually we realize that that's something we can do and we feel very comfortable is interior design and all the interior solutions and working along with a good team to make it happen.

[Richard Bexon]
Well, you had mentioned something earlier, which is that like, you know, kind of tropicalizing that design, but also is, I think that we'd spoken about it before we jumped on the podcast, which is just kind of guiding people where to invest in there, you know, where to invest money in their home and where potentially not, because again, a home in Costa Rica is different than it is in North America. I was talking with a realtor here in the UK today, and he was like, look, people constantly trade up homes here to get bigger homes because they spend so much time in their homes because of the weather.

But in Costa Rica, like we don't spend as much time. Like we are spending probably more time than we used to, but because of the climate, we spend a lot of time outdoors. But where do you think people should be investing time and money when designing a home in Costa Rica?

And what are those important areas for them to think about?

[Kristal Echeverria]
Well, the first area that come into my mind, but I'm a little bit biased because I love it. It's Santa Teresa. You know, I love Santa Teresa.

I love that area because I love the community that has been grown up there in terms of like, it's kind of bohemian and you find a lot of artists and you find a lot of European restaurants and good quality restaurants. So that's one of the areas that would definitely come into my mind. I think also another area that it's a little bit more known for people and it's wonderful.

It's actually my let's say my other favorite area is the Osa Peninsula. I love the Osa Peninsula, and it's an area that maybe you're not going to be able to build something huge in terms of like concrete jungle, you know, but but it has so much because, you know, the restrictions there, I believe they are stronger, but it's wonderful. It has five percent of the world's biodiversity and it's an area that is still very virgin.

So that's an area that I think it has a lot of future in in Costa Rica for people that like nature, you know.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. But if I'm talking about the actual home design itself, say that in Osa or in Santa Teresa, you know, someone's like, look, I don't know, I want really elegant bathrooms. And you're like, look, that sounds great, but really is it doesn't add value to your home because people aren't going to spend tons of time in the bathroom, you know, whereas you need to spend more money, I don't know, on pool areas or, you know, external fun areas or like where do you typically guide people when it comes to design and be like put money in these areas inside your house?

[Kristal Echeverria]
It depends of the use of the house. If the house is going to be an investment, you know, and to rent and that you really need to be very smart with those decisions in terms of where to place. And maybe it will be more in the living or in the kitchen area or in all the social areas, you know.

But also we have had clients that, you know, they worked a lot in their lives and what they want, it's their hideaway. And they say, OK, I work so much and this is going to be my how can I say they're like my gift to myself. So so I want this because we have built this really like luxury.

[Kristal Echeverria]
various homes in places that you will never understand why, because it's in the middle of the jungle, but it's because they can, you know, and I used to be, because there is where my brain, you know, finance brain comes, and I used to like advise them, even though they were fine for me, and they were like, look, I want to do it, you know, I've worked my whole life and I want this, so I think that's the first question I'll ask the clients, okay, is this going to be a home for rental and as an investment in that sense, or if it's going to be something for yourself and for your family, and that you want to do, I don't know, a cinema, because you want to do it.

[Mar Echeverria]
May I add as well, also, besides asking, is it going to be a second home or a vacation rental, I would say regardless of those questions, social areas are a must, the kitchen social areas, and the bedrooms, because bedrooms are, you know, where we have a great night's sleep, so you have to have a good design, a good space, a good area to put your, not only your, you know, your your apartments, but also to have the space to, if you don't want to leave your bedroom, you can have, you know, an outdoor terrace to go and relax and just be out of nowhere, no one's sight, and as well, the social areas, because that's, kitchen is the place where most people hang out, you know, and then the pool areas as well, so a house must have a really comfortable pool area, lounge area, and the outdoors are important, especially in Costa Rica, people come here for nature.

[Richard Bexon]
So where could people, I mean, if they needed to, because a lot of people, of course, will be working towards a budget, I mean, where can they not invest so much, I mean, if they're investing in those social areas, where are the areas that you're like, look, it's maybe not as important in these areas, especially as a vacation rental home, let's talk vacation rental homes here, just to make it easier.

[Kristal Echeverria]
I think closets, it's something that it's, it can be done here, and it can look nice, and, and it doesn't, bathrooms, you can make them really, really cool, like, I love exterior showers, they don't have to be like the fancier, and, and you can do amazing thing with like landscaping, and, and, and that, and I think what Chris was saying, people come here to live from exterior to the interior, you know, what you want them, it's to feel that lush nature all the time, you don't want, it's not an apartment in New York City, or it's not a house in London, that you don't want to replicate that, from my point of view, of course, I respect other people that think that, but what you want, it's, you know, tropical home that when you can live from the exterior to the interior, and, and those are areas that, that you can do wonderful things, because I'm not saying, from a design perspective, you can't, without spending so much, another thing that I always tell to clients, it's like, okay, from my point of view, it's better to start with a smaller house, that you can grow bigger, but build that house in the good way, and then maybe you can already have the drawings, or the, the idea in mind to grow it bigger, if it works, but don't do a a super big house, that you can't really invest on it, because then you will regret it, because again, and going back to one of your questions, on what you recommend, people will find contractors that will tell them, okay, I can do this for this much, and, and they will believe to them, and they will think they will do, and that won't happen, and that's something I'm very clean with my clients, you know, when somebody comes and tell you a budget, that it's, I always ask, okay, what's the budget they give you per square meter, because I think it's very important for them to understand that, you know, the concrete cost this much, and the steel cost this much, and you can't save on that, it's a commodity, and those are the prices, and if somebody tells you that they're going to do it for cheaper, basically, they're playing with you, so it's to start with something smaller, and make it grow.

[Richard Bexon]
It's funny that you said that, I saw something on Facebook today, where they were showing this three-bedroom home, and saying it costs $70,000 to build it, and I was like, there's no way you can build a three-bedroom home in Costa Rica, out of brick, out of like, you know, concrete, for $70,000, and like, there's just certain things that you can see, that are off, and that like, smell, that like, it's not right, you know, and what we've had to do to kind of manage clients' expectations through our process, is every single time we get a design back, you know, because sometimes bedrooms, like from the original design, to what it ends up in, sometimes it could be a lot bigger, and then at the end, they get the price, and they're like, wow, that's a lot more than what I thought it was, so what we've had to do is every single variation that we get, we give the client the updated price per square meter, you know, based on like, a rough idea of finishings and stuff, so that they can guide that through the budget as well, so they don't get to the end of the design process, and go, oh wow, now this is 25% of my budget, like, I can't do this, like, throughout the whole process, they need to understand if every single step, they need that budget, and they should be asking their architects for that as well, if they can, you know, just to make sure, is that again, they don't waste time, because the architect's not going to be happy at the end of the design, when it comes back, be like, no, you've got to reduce it 25%, you know, nobody likes their artwork to be reduced.

[Kristal Echeverria]
Yes, yes, no, and I agree, and there's, and look, there's also a lot of work being involved, you know, in the creative aspect of it, so we ourselves have invested a lot of hours in some projects, and then the clients come, say no, and, but, but again, it's not my house, I always say that, and I always say that to the, to the team, it's our client's house, and what we want, it's at the end for them to be completely pleased by everything, and it's better to do it in that they say, in the design, etapa, stage, like, yeah, because you can, you can change stuff, exactly, then, then when you're doing it, and when it's going to be much more expensive, and then you end up having problems with the client, so we always try to avoid that, and that's why renders have helped us a lot, and I've always been very keen in doing, I always show renders, and then the reality, how it, how it shows, and they have to match, so, so, yeah, people think that here, it's, you know, it's Costa Rica, Latin America, it's super cheap to build, no, this is an expensive country, and I always tell to the clients, this is not like other Latin American countries, where you can find, like, really, really cheap things, no, and, and there's a lot of competition also for the, the labor here, so the construction labor, I'm sure you've seen what

[Richard Bexon]
had happened, I mean, a lot of those people have gone to the states now, so, I mean, construction workers have never earned more than, than before, you know, here in Costa Rica, so, yeah, well, exactly, well, let me, Chris, my question for you, and I'll ask both of you this, but maybe, Chris, you can go first, if you were investing in Costa Rica for the next five years, where, which, which areas of Costa Rica would you be investing in, and why?

[Mar Echeverria]
I would definitely go with Osa, why? Because Osa is the new up-and-coming place, you know, the, the North Pacific region is already saturated, it has, it has become too clotted, so if people are looking for the next best thing, would be Dominical, Puerto Jimenez, they still have so much land that you can build up in a mountain, let's say, a beautiful house, regardless of the size, and still go and have the commodities of being in a town, you know, you will not feel constrained or, or clumped into a region, so, yeah, I would definitely recommend that, and why not give a chance to the Caribbean side? I mean, Puerto Viejo has beautiful beaches, Manzanillo, and, you know, we have national reserves, so why not give the chance to that region that needs, you know, a lot of development, because nature is already amazing there, so those would be the two places.

[Richard Bexon]
And great food as well in the Caribbean, which is by, it's, it's amazing how, it's some of the best food in Costa Rica, I think. What about you, Maria?

[Kristal Echeverria]
I think, okay, I agree with what Chris says, but I will add to that, I don't think, okay, Guanacaste, certain areas are very crowded, but there's still a lot of potential in Guanacaste, and, and I think also it's one of the zones, the Caribbean and Guanacaste are one of the richer zones in terms of culture, you know, we Costa Ricans have become, this country, and it's the truth, has become a little bit Americanized, and, and if you come, and certain areas have lost the taste of what the culture used to be, and I think Guanacaste and the Caribbean has, has kept that. So in Guanacaste, you know, Guanacaste is a very big province, so I will invest in certain projects that maybe I can, I won't mention names, but what I really make sure it's the developer that is behind it, it's a serious developer, you know, that's basically even in any place in Costa Rica, and, and to do, again, the right diligence, because I hate it when people come with these terrifying stories that they met somebody, they gave them the money in advance, and then that person disappeared, and that had happened, or projects that never happened, because the people that really got on it didn't have the means, the knowledge, and maybe there wasn't bad intention, but they just didn't know how to handle it, so, so for me it will be that, and again, well, I love Santa Teresa, it's my favorite place, so, so I think, I have invested there actually myself, and I think it's a great area, and it still has a lot of potential. Of course, there is a lot of things that I always say, we don't have to repeat the mistakes that have been done in other beach towns, that have become too crowded for my taste, and that have become, I don't know, all the taste has gone away, when I see fake grass in Costa Rica, and I think it's, you know, it's the responsibility, yeah, of the government, and it's the responsibility of us professionals, but it's also the client's responsibility. You cannot come to a country, and this is something, and you know, I'm a capitalist myself, I have nothing to do with, but I want to say something, you cannot come to a country and try to expect from their beaches, their people, everything, and then be shady in like paying taxes, or be shady in like doing other things, no, because I won't go to the UK, or to the US, and try to do that, maybe here we don't have those systems so much in control, but I think it's important to be a responsible owner, and to do things also, also the right way.

[Richard Bexon]
I agree, I agree, yeah, I mean, it's amazing you mentioned there about developers here, I mean, you really have to be very careful when developing, you know, or when investing into it, especially a new development, or even existing ones, I mean, I've had clients that have invested in existing ones, and the water letter they got was like a fake water letter, which is incredible, you know, so I mean, you need to like, we call up the asadas, you know, and actually kind of make sure that the asadas are registered, I just, it just goes back to what you mentioned there is, you need a good team, and especially when it comes to due diligence, because yeah, there are many ways here to get your fingers burnt, unfortunately, in this such a beautiful country, you know, yes, and there's a lot of good people, you know, and you

[Kristal Echeverria]
still like very good-hearted people, but you also find other, and some of them maybe might not be even Costa Ricans, but they got accustomed to the business that way, and they always try to, yeah,

[Richard Bexon]
well, maybe your answer might be a little bit different based on like locations, but my last question for you, ladies, if you inherited $500,000, and had to invest it into a business or real estate in Costa Rica, what would you invest it in and why?

[Kristal Echeverria]
I will invest it in a wellness center, because I'm also very keen about that, I love wellness, and I've learned the couple of years, I went through something with my health perfectly now, but I've learned so much about like taking care of yourself from, you know, the right way, and not maybe the traditional way, so in that sense, I will definitely invest it in a wellness center in Costa Rica.

[Richard Bexon]
Whereabouts would you like to do it?

[Kristal Echeverria]
I think you already know.

[Richard Bexon]
I'm not too sure how $500,000 would do that in Santa Teresa.

[Kristal Echeverria]
Yeah, no, I need much more, but yeah, that, because I also, you know, Santa Teresa is a place, and I have seen it, there is crystals, you know, that's why people say that it attracts so much in the mountain, and I have seen it in projects in which suddenly a rock comes, and it's a crystal rock, and it's also, you know, it's a place that, okay, maybe not in downtown Santa Teresa, which honestly, I think it has gone a little bit out of the hands, but maybe more towards north Santa Teresa in Hermosa, over there you still have like lush nature, amazing properties, there's not so much right now, but you can find something, and the community there, you know, I love the community of artists, and the restaurants, and watching the sunset in Rocamar, and having like a very low-key, you can be sitting next down to somebody really, you know, important, you don't really know, because everybody is in flip-flops.

[Richard Bexon]
That's the beauty of this country, it's like nobody really cares, nobody cares who you are, or how much money you've got, like, you know, your political, like everyone's just here to have a good time.

[Kristal Echeverria]
Yes, yes, so I love the vibe there in that sense, I also love Osa, but I think Osa, there's still a road to go in terms, like, for example, in Santa Teresa, if I go and live by myself there, I feel comfortable, maybe Osa is a little bit of isolated, because it will become, like, communities will be built, but now it's a little bit more isolated right now.

[Richard Bexon]
What about you, Cruz?

[Mar Echeverria]
I'm still thinking from the moment you asked that question, because, okay, in terms, from my perspective, I'm not sure if I would do a real estate investment per se, but if I have that money, I would invest it with the community, let's say, I would go to, for example, Santa Teresa or Tamarindo, I would go to Tamarindo before it was developed, and I would do a meeting with all the communal people, and say, I'll invest this money with you if we all work together to develop nicely, you know what I mean, because some areas have become, they have been built just like crazy, without any thinking ahead, so you drive past the area, and it doesn't look nice, and we have such beautiful land and landscapes sometimes, that we need to have someone that really does know how to build and what to build, you know, because it's a drive past those structures.

[Richard Bexon]
I mean, look, I mean, I think that it's basically city planning, I mean, you know, I mean, I think one of the great things that a property like Las Catalinas did, I think that they actually sat down at the beginning of it and actually came up with a master plan with an aesthetic of everything of how it's going to look, again, very easy to do when you're developed as a billionaire, you know, and there is one concept, I think it's when you're, you go to a town and organically it grows, you know, but there is still, you could still do that areas like Playa Negra Avianas, that you can get together, as you mentioned there, Chris, with that community, you know, and go like, what is the aesthetic that we're going to do, what are we going to do, and what are we not going to do, so that when projects come along, that you're like, look, this doesn't fit really the values of this community, and I'll give you an example, like the Islas project in Mammal Antonio, where they're trying to build 20 tower, like story high tower in Mammal Antonio, which is like, look, come on guys, like, you don't do that in Mammal Antonio, like, it's like, yeah, you just don't do that, so the whole community now is against you, and you never want that, you know, whereas if you just sat down with the community, maybe you could have done four or five towers, four stories high, that didn't, wasn't obnoxious, you know, but I completely agree, Chris, I think it's, you know, there is a lot more of, I wish that, I mean, it's very easy to do when it's a World Heritage site, but like Antigua Guatemala, where it's like, there's no signs outside, like all signs are on the buildings, and they're made of wood, like even McDonald's.

[Kristal Echeverria]
And the cables, that's something I really suffer here in Costa Rica, the electrical cables, I always say, God, when it's going to stop, because every day it's more and more and more, and regarding to what Chris was mentioning, and again, I think I'm very also keen on that, it's like giving back the community, you know, you come to this amazing country, and Costa Rica is a beautiful country, we're not perfect, but it's like, try also to do projects that involve the community, and that makes the community, because there's been a lot of gentrification, I think it's the word, so I don't think that's right, and I think it's how, like, if I ever actually, we can talk about this later, I have a project in mind, and I always say, I want to give back to the community, in some way, and I'm always being also very keen about like, helping kids, and children, and with education, so I want to see a way to combine that, and you also have these like, really, and some of them have been my clients, like billionaires coming here, so I always tell them, okay, let's try and do something in which, I don't know, you help me to bring a teacher from the US, and maybe teach them about AI, and that can seem impossible, but it's impossible until it's done, you know, and teach about kids, about do like an after school, and let's open it for like, not only like, low-income people, but everyone, so people don't feel the difference, and they can also interact with kids from other countries, and from richer families, and not feeling comfortable while doing that, so that's something I will eventually get into that, I'm not ready yet, but I have it, you know, I've been writing a lot, and also about like, showing kids where do the food come from, doing like an organic garden, showing them, okay, yes, and donating like the food, okay, it can serve the community, but then there is going to be always leftovers, if you do it right, so you can give it to the community, and not only, because in the pandemic, for example, me with some friends, we helped the community of Santa Teresa with like 300, I believe, we do it, we made it through the alley, 300 canastas básicas, yeah, you know, like rice, and beans, and like, yes, I was very keen on doing it healthy, you know, it's not that you just give out food, no, it's that you have to do it right, so that's something, because you've also, that way the society doesn't change, and the contract, the social contract in Costa Rica doesn't change, because that's what has kept this country very different from other countries in Central America, and that's the beauty of this country, that, you know, I can sit down with anyone, and share a cup of coffee, and feel happy with them, and they can feel happy with me, and I don't want that to change, I don't want, like, hierarchies to be so much like, okay, these are the rich people, and we are the poor people, and they are invading our town, because then the social contract is going to be broken, and then insecurity comes, and that will really affect our country.

[Richard Bexon]
I think the beauty of Costa Rica is, you still have some of the richest people in this country, like, going out fishing in pangas, and fishing with hand lines, or on their horses, you know, with locals, like, you know, wrangling cattle, like, it's still like that, like, and that's the beauty of this country, I think, is, yes, there is class, of course, but, like, people, like, it's not like the UK, I mean, we have so many class levels, it's ridiculous here, and, you know, I don't want this to become ever like that, and no one really cares here, to be honest with you, but, well, I don't, but that's maybe because I'm not in it anymore, but, but, yeah, well, guys, this has been an absolutely amazing podcast, I really appreciate you guys taking the time, out of what I know is a very busy day, to come and chat with us.

I'll put all of your contact details down in the description down below, for anyone that wants to reach out to you, but thanks very much for taking the time to chat with us.

[Kristal Echeverria]
Thank you, no thank you, and, and anything you need, we're here.

[Richard Bexon]
Thanks, guys.

[Mar Echeverria]
It's amazing, thank you so much for the opportunity, and we hope to chat with you soon.

[Richard Bexon]
Sounds good, bye.

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Where Interior Designers think you should invest in a vacation rental in Costa Rica

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