San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

Many U.S. expats will celebrate tomorrow, July 4, at places such as Mystica Lodge on the road to Sabalito. Given the new banking regulations, however, next year’s July 4 celebrants may not see many new faces. New LakeArenal resident Steve Kummert recently blazed a trail through the new thicket of frustration, a trail blocked at Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Popular. Only at Coopemex, a credit union, could he establish an account. Meanwhile, the rest of us who have had bank accounts for some time should be thankful to be grandfathered in. The banks will now not welcome your business unless you have a residency ID or have been living in the country for at least a year, which you will have to prove with evidence of your immigration status. Supplicants will also have to provide a financial statement showing the source of income. If you’re trying to establish a bank account in the name of a corporation, the requirements are also onerous.

At Coopemex, Steve found, you must provide a copy of your passport and also a water or electricity bill to show your address. It may be some weeks before a brand-new resident has a utility bill to present. You cannot start with more than $1,000 in the account. However, you can actually get an account, and thus Steve and wife Eve will have an easier time settling into their newly purchased home in Aguacate.

Tilarán recently won a pricing competition with Cañas, on one product, at least. A lake area resident drove down into the relatively hellish lowland heat to find special medical products at a large pharmacy. In Cañas, she paid ¢12,500 ($22) for a small tube of DuoDerm, an ointment used on burns. Later, she found the same product available at a smaller pharmacy in Tilarán for ¢6,340 ($11). Breezy hilltop Tilarán proves itself again.

–Alex Murray


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