10 things you should know when buying Tamarindo real estate
Pt. 5: Home Utilities
In part one of this ten-part series, we discussed the Costa Rican legal system and how it differs from the U.S. legal system. In part two, we discussed how to choose a realtor. In part three, we discussed property managers and the services they provide in maintaining and renting your vacation home. In the fourth installment, we discussed the various taxes that may apply when owning Tamarindo real estate. In this fifth installment, we will discuss the various utilities that service your new home.
The Cooperative of Rural Electrification of Guanacaste is a cooperative that holds the concession to distribute electricity in Guanacaste. They are known locally as CoopeGuanacaste. They are the only providers of electricity in the region. You may pay your electricity bill online if you have online banking with a Costa Rican bank, in person at most Costa Rican banks, in one of CoopeGuanacaste’s offices and in many supermarkets around Guanacaste. In order to pay your bill, you should provide the clerk with your contract number. This is different than your meter number and is the easiest way for them to find and credit your account.
The standard residential tariff is called T-1. When buying a new home, you want to ensure you are paying this tariff. There are two other possible tariffs. The first is a provisional tariff. This is a tariff that is charged to developers when they register multiple electricity meters at one time. The most frequent example is a developer of condominiums. To incentivize the developer and eventual owners to transfer the meter into the correct owner’s name, CoopeGuanacaste charges a higher temporary tariff. Not all first time buyers have been made aware of the temporary tariff and some condominium owners continue to pay the higher temporary tariff. The second possible tariff is a T-2 tariff. This is the tariff for commercial use. CoopeGuanacaste has applied the T-2 tariff in the past to condo owners who rent their properties the majority of the year. This is not a correct application of the T-2 tariff and they will change a residence to a T-1 tariff if requested by the owner.
When buying a home in Tamarindo, if the electric meter is not in the name of the corporation that will hold the property, we advise you to request a letter for authorization from the seller which grants permission for you to transfer the meter into your or your company’s name.
The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, known locally as AyA, is in charge of the nation’s water supply. As Costa Rica is still a developing nation, AyA does not service every part of the country. In areas AyA does not service, residents may form Asociaciones Administradoras de Sistemas de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (ASADAS), which are private democratically elected boards to service defined areas. AyA and two different ASADAS service Tamarindo. Both AyA and all ASADAS must have their tariffs approved by Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos (ARESEP). If you are unhappy with the rates charged by AyA or an ASADA, complaining to either of those entities will be of little value. Instead, you should ask when is the next scheduled meeting with ARESEP and present your grievances with that organization. In general, both AyA and the ASADAS want to help you save water. Working with them to reduce your water bill produces the best results.
As with your electricity bill, you can pay your water bill online if you have online banking, or in most Costa Rican banks. AyA issues a NIS number (contract number) which should be used when paying your bill or requesting service.
Phone, Cable, Internet
The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE – pronounced E-Say not ice) is the primary provider of terrestrial phone service in Costa Rica. Other companies such as Movistar and Claro have recently entered the mobile phone market. At the moment, only Costa Rican citizens and permanent residents can obtain phone lines. Most ex-pats navigate this restriction by taking out a phone line in the name of a Costa Rican corporation. If you go this route, be sure to stop by the post office and pick up a personeria (a document showing you have the power to act on behalf of your corporation) as you will need it to obtain the phone line or mobile contract.
The two largest cable providers in the Tamarindo area are CableTica and Tigo (formerly Amnet). They both provide digital High Definition cable and broadband cable services through cable modems. Of the two, CableTica currently has more English language programming. Kolbi is a third option for Internet service. Kolbi is a subsidiary of ICE and provides broadband Internet service through an ADSL connection. CableTica and Tigo will not provide only Internet service (you must purchase a cable package as well). Kolbi will provide only Internet service with the requirement of a terrestrial phone line.
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