· FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions ·

Costa Rica, Green Building, and Solar Power

Can I rent out my house when I’m not there?
Yes we definitely suggest it. Green building is a rapidly growing trend in the U.S. and sustainable construction will be the norm within a few more years. Many people would probably love to rent your house and see how it works. There are many vacation rental companies in the Malpais area who can help you to get bookings, such as Malpais Rentals. To get more bookings, it helps to have an excellent website for your house, such as: Montezuma Rental House. Also, you should list your house on vrbo.com and greatrentals.com.

Is this a good investment? Are prices still going up in Costa Rica?
Yes, the selling prices in the area have risen steadily, at least 20-30% per year and show no sign of slowing down. Malpais was recently voted by Forbes Magazine to be one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world, so any property with a 10-20 minute drive is highly desirable. Solar Vistas is 7-10 minutes by car to these white sand beaches. Green building is the fastest growing segment of the construction market in the U.S., so building an eco-friendly home is a great investment if you ever want to sell in the future.

Is this risky? Do I get a title?
Costa Rica has been a successful Democracy for decades, and the Solar Vistas lots are titled land. You will have the same ownership rights as Costa Rican citizens. There are several American companies such as Stewart Title who will even sell you Title insurance for 1.5% of your purchase price.

Can I ride my bike and hike in the area?
Yes, Solar Vistas is located in a rural area, surrounded by rolling hills of cattle fields, and crisscrossed by jungle-filled canyons. The roads are gravel and are excellent for mountain-biking or walking. Also, all streams in Costa Rica are considered public property, so you can explore either direction and could even make it all the way down to the ocean if you wished. These streams have swimming holes, waterfalls, and lots of ancient trees.

Does Costa Rica have earthquakes or hurricanes?
Yes, like most of the Pacific Rim, Costa Rica has earthquakes, and the houses will be designed and built to withstand them. Unlike many places in the U.S., Costa Rica has never had a devastating earthquake. As for hurricanes, Costa Rica is well south of the usual route for hurricanes. Only one has his the country in recorded history, which was on the Caribbean side of the country.

Will I see Monkeys?
Yes, your monkey fantasies will be fulfilled in Costa Rica. We have two types living in the area – howler monkeys and white faced monkeys. The Solar Vistas property is bordered by primary forest and we have already seen howler monkeys in the trees. We are planting more trees specifically to attract monkeys and other animals, as well as parrots and aracaris (a type of medium toucan that relishes papayas and ylang ylang berries.)

With only solar panels for electricity, will I have enough power?
Yes, but living in a solar powered house takes a bit of adjusting, since most Americans are used to wasting power as a matter of ordinary life. Some devices such as a food processor or heat gun draw a huge amount of power, and cannot be used extensively. The biggest draw on power is the refrigerator, and we suggest two options to help: either use a medium energy-star compliant refrigerator, or an imported “Sundanzer” refrigerator that can run on the power from a single solar panel. Cooking must be done with a propane-powered stove. Most electronics don’t draw much power, and neither does a stereo system. Our friend who was a professional DJ in the area was able to run his whole house and all his musical equipment with just three solar panels.
Solar Vistas currently plans to run electric cables to every property to provide backup power. A thin cable will be used, so an energy efficient house is necessary because not much current can be drawn from this cable. But, it will be enough to power your refrigerator and a few lights.

Can I have Air-Conditioning?
An AC unit is a huge draw on power and it’s not suggested for use with a solar power system. However, if it’s extremely important to you, it can be done by purchasing extra solar panels and batteries to create a beefier system. It would help to create a single room which is extremely thermally insulated to keep as a cool, dry room, and you can keep your computers and electronics equipment there.

Are there lots of bugs?
Costa Rica is in the tropics, but this part of the country is considered a “dry tropical forest”. It has less rain and less bugs than the Caribbean side of the country or further south. We recommend windows with screens to keep bugs from being able to enter the house. There are much more bugs in the beginning of the rainy season (May/June. Using LED lighting not only saves power and money, but bugs aren’t attracted to LED lights, making them ideal for the jungle. Solar Vistas is looking for a local supplier of LED light bulbs. This technology is improving rapidly and is expected to dominate the market within a few years.

Can I get Malaria?
No, not in this part of Costa Rica. Only a few extremely remote, unpopulated areas of Costa Rica are known to have Malaria.