HOUSTON / ATLANTA / MONROVIA

Dean of the Consular Corps Consul General of Costa Rica

The Honorable Herbert Espinoza

SOLANO

Today we have been warmly received by the new Dean of the Consular Corps who is the Consul General of Costa Rica, Hon. Herbert Espinoza and his lovely wife, Erika Gutierrez. Mrs. Erika Gutierrez is truly a life partner and together they are dedicated ambassadors for Costa Rica. They have been enthusiastic promoters of Costa Rica and mutual trade and exchange of ideas with Houston and the rest of Texas for the past 5 ½ years, In the words of the Consul General himself, “Erika is a very important part of my work. My adviser, my partner, and a staunch promoter of our country. She represents Costa Rica at the Consular League of Houston (a non-profit organization formed by the spouses of the Consuls and former Consuls) and is a member of its Board. She is truly a valuable (and lovely) asset for our country in Houston.”

Heidi PP: That is a lovely tribute and a much deserved one. For several years now, I have been hearing about Costa Rica and its attractions as an idyllic retirement destination for Americans. For our readership, what are some incentives for Americans looking to relocate for their Golden Years?

Hon. Herbert Espinoza: Costa Rica offers an ideal climate, as you have heard from the retirees who have moved there. With the breezes from the ocean, the average temperatures stay around 80. Heating and Air Conditioning are not necessary..

As an incentive for retirees who wish to relocate, Costa Rica does not tax the importation of home goods. A couple may also import 2 vehicles. The process of acquiring legal residency is easy and painless. Anyone who wants to retire there only has to have a verifiable income of $1000/month, be current on their federal taxes, and have no criminal record. The American community in Costa Rica has grown dramatically since the 90’s, and they are very welcoming to new residents helping them to feel at home right away. Costa Ricans welcome new residents with open arms.

Costa Rica is the most advanced country in Central America and has all the modern technological conveniences including a fast and efficient internet. For anyone who moves to Costa Rica, it is possible to continue to work remotely from the beach, by a lake, or in the mountains.

Heidi PP: It sounds absolutely perfect. For someone who wants to continue their work toward a degree, what do the colleges and universities offer? Is bilingual education available for a family from the United States?

Hon. Espinoza: Costa Rica offers the best education system in South America. Families moving to Costa Rica can choose public or private schools. There is an emphasis on English from primary through secondary schools.

Heidi PP: How do colleges and universities handle transfers for someone who wishes to finish a degree or earn a Masters?

Hon. Espinoza: Costa Rica has over 60 institutions of higher learning. The top 5 universities accept transfers from American Universities. They offer full credit for work completed at the university level. The universities have intensive Spanish to prepare their graduates for life after college. The national university has over 100 programs.

For international students, there are host families, and an intensive Spanish language program is offered during the orientation period.

Heidi PP: As the Consul General of Costa Rica, what are your duties and how do you assist Costa Ricans who live here?

Hon. Espinoza: As the Consul, I assist Costa Rican Citizens with issuing and renewing passports, legal advice, and other assistance they may need. We have been offering travel education for Costa Ricans who need to come to Houston for any reason. There are approximately 25,000 Costa Ricans in the area we cover. Sometimes a Costa Rican citizen needs to have a Power of Attorney to give to someone. Occasionally, we have to make a trip to do a welfare check on a citizen who needs medical care, and sometimes we have the unfortunate situation where a citizen gets into trouble.

It is always a pleasure to assist a Costa Rican businessperson in establishing themselves in the U.S. Our services go both ways. We assist with all the paperwork for a Costa Rican business that wishes to trade with the U.S. and we will assist a Texas business that wants to trade with Costa Rica.

Heidi PP: What are some of your goals for the relationship between Houston and Costa Rica?

Hon. Espinoza: We would like to see a growing and stronger connection between Houston and all of Texas with Costa Rica, including more trade (Texas is currently our main trade partner among US States), more mutual investment opportunities, more tourism and more scientific and academic exchanges.

Heidi PP: That leads to my next question: How can a Houston businessperson invest in Costa Rica? Are there restrictions?

Hon. Espinoza: First of all, Costa Rica has a long history of a stable government and stable economy. The military was abolished in 1990. There is a special visa leading to permanent residency called the Inversionista Visa (Investment Visa). Anyone investing $150,000 into Costa Rica, and it can be a home, acquires a legal permanent residency. The government has provided tax incentives for foreign investors who wish to reside in Costa Rica, and the residency includes the family. The investment can go into real estate, forestry or reforestation, and other industries that benefit the economy.. The fees for registering the business are moderate, and the investors are able to own their property. Costa Rica is better than any other South American country for foreign ownership.

Heidi PP: That information will be shared with our readers. Also, as you know, I host trade missions to foreign countries for Houston business people. How could you assist me with a trade mission to Costa Rica?

Hon. Espinoza: it would be our pleasure to introduce you to our government leaders and foreign affairs representatives. Costa Rica welcomes investors, retirees, and tourists. When you are ready, I will assist with official introductions, appointments, education for travel, and visas.

Heidi PP: Thank you for your time and hospitality. I look forward to a trip to Costa Rica and to a long relationship between our countries.

For our readership, if you want more information feel free to contact:

Heidi PP, Editor in Chief iF Magazine
Latin Chair HITDC
Founder Global Vision
(713) 927-9038
heidipp@ifmagazine.net
hppfoto23@gmail.com

Hon. Daniel Espinoza
Consul General, Costa Rica
Dean of the Consular Corps
(713) 266-0484
hespinoza@rree.go.us

Houston, TX | Atlanta, GA | Monrovia, LI
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