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Our Obsession With Water

May 29, 2013

Our Obsession With Water

Obsession may be a strong word. Necessity may be more relevant… but is almost more daunting. The bottom line – water is a worldwide requirement that is taken for granted in the majority of the developed world. 

For example… did you know:

- There are more people in the world today with a cell phone then those with access to a toilet?

- People suffering from water-related sickness occupy half the earth’s hospital beds?

- A mere 33% of what people around the world spend on bottled water would pay to provide clean water to the 780 million that don’t currently have it?

These, and many other facts about water (or lack thereof) around the world are staggering and are a serious reality check for those of us living where water is simply part of our everyday life.

As you start thinking about retirement, some of your key criteria likely include affordability, an escape from the cold and snow and access to the comforts you’re accustomed to (electricity, communication and… (hot)water-on-demand). For the majority of Canadians and northern Americans – the exception being those that enjoy winter – this means heading south. Either into the US or further.

So where do you go? Especially if you’re already in the US… seems an easy move to head to the southern-most states to live out your ‘golden years’, right? Well, depending on how important that final ‘comfort’ of water-on-demand is to you, Orlando, Phoenix, much of Texas and eight other major US cities are all facing severe water shortages within the very near future. However, none are as frighteningly severe as Las Vegas… with its main water source, Lake Mead, losing 10 feet of water a year, there is more going out then there is coming in. Not a good situation, since the water from Lake Mead helps generate power through the Hoover Dam, which also powers some large California cities.

All this being said, you are likely already aware of much of this, and Where International is certainly not in the business of ‘fear mongering’. We are, however, in the business of offering excellent home and property options for anyone looking to retire, invest or simply live abroad.

Latin America has not always been front and center when it comes to clean water, but with so many people exploring this part of the world as a new ‘home base’, developers are taking note. After all, what good is an affordable piece of spectacular property if you can’t drink the water?

Costa Rica is a trailblazer when it comes to protecting its resources. They’ve been successful in bringing back their lush rainforests after aggressive land-clearing for coffee production and cattle raising put them in decline, and have made a worldwide name for themselves in eco-tourism.

Costa Rica’s ‘Water Law’ was first introduced in 1942. It was put in place to manage the water Costa Rican’s drink and to protect the water sources in national parks and the water used to generate hydroelectric power. These measures were visionary at the time; ensuring Costa Rica was able to manage and protect its resources in the long term and avoid similar issues that certain US states currently face.

Naturally, much has changed since 1942, including a huge influx of foreigners visiting and living in Costa Rica. There’s no doubt that the current Water Law is due for an update, and the government is very aware of this. Over the course of the past few years, a variety of changes have been tabled, but reaching a unanimous consensus has been a challenge because of the complexity and countrywide impact.

One thing is for certain… Costa Rica is a leader in ensuring its residents and visitors have access to potable drinking water. Certainly, there are still some areas in this beautiful country that are struggling with safe drinking water, but this is the case all over the world. For example, in Canada there are several native reserves that have been under ‘boil water advisories’ since the mid-90’s. Just living in a developed country does not give you the automatic right to potable water… apparently. In Costa Rica, 97% of the population receives piped water via 2,300 aqueducts across the country. Not too shabby…

Part of developing land is ensuring the water – waste and naturally occurring (rain, etc) – that is displaced and used, is drained appropriately. This means creating infrastructure to redirect where that water goes and that it doesn’t have a negative impact, either on the land, nature or the people already living in the area. Our developer partners in both the Nicoya Peninsula and the Southern Zone are doing their part in ensuring their communities are providing an efficient system of culverts (as shown above), have safe drink-from-the tap water as well as ‘on demand’ water available. Marcel with Pacific Properties and Mike and Judy, with Pacific Blue, have drilled wells (as shown above) throughout their developments guaranteeing this. They also have the appropriate water permits required from Costa Rica’s government (these alone can take over 2 years to obtain!) to verify that the water is appropriate for human consumption and that there will be enough for the entire development.

Water is a necessity, not just for us to survive, but to maintain and balance the ecosystem… from the air we breathe to the food we put on our plates and everything in between. When you’re considering a retirement or investment property, safe drinking water and hot showers may be a luxury you take for granted – especially in North America – but don’t expect that every developer in Costa Rica can provide this. Make sure they’ve done their due diligence, and that includes securing the appropriate water permits.

Want an opportunity to visit developers that have your (and Costa Rica’s!) best interests in mind?

Go HERE to learn more about a Discovery Weekend on the Nicoya Peninsula

Go HERE to learn more about a Discovery Weekend in the Southern Zone


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Where International exists to recommend a variety of International real estate options. Where International requires developers to meet stringent criteria before offering them to you. Conversely, any inspections we conduct on projects or individuals should not be misinterpreted as a guarantee by Where International. International real estate is not immune to the ups and downs that occur in North American real estate; property values are never guaranteed to increase.

Where International is not accountable for the orchestration or deliverance of Discovery Weekends. We provide them to you on behalf of our developer partners. We recommend that you purchase travel insurance, as you would with any trip out of your home country. In addition, we advise you complete your own due diligence, purchase title insurance and always use a local attorney to assist with all transactions. In the event that a reader purchases a property from a recommended developer, Where International receives a sum from the developer.