Six Properties and Under $4,000 Property Tax… Total in Trondara

Daniel Trefts is no stranger to the freedom you can find on the water. As a sailor, he worked on movie sets worldwide, including The Pirates of the Caribbean. But there was just something about Lake Arenal, Costa Rica he didn't experience anywhere else.

Originally from California, Daniel first came to Costa Rica on his honeymoon back in the early ‘90s.

"We flew into San Jose and rented a car," he says. "As a captain, I just looked at a map and picked our itinerary. Our first stop was Volcán Arenal, and we loved it. I remember being so impressed when we saw this place for the first time."

Of course, when the honeymoon was over, Daniel returned to his life and work, traveling throughout the world. But that lake was always on his mind.

"No matter where I traveled, I could never find this," he explains. "Nothing ever duplicated this lake. So, I finally asked myself, 'Why do I keep looking?' That lake is the place."

Today, Daniel lives on that lake he dreamed of for so long.

He owns a beautiful property in the Arenal district of Tronadora, with his home and two guest cabins, right on the lake.

He lives with his dog Blue and his cat Captain Kiki.

"I'm enjoying my second life now, the next chapter. It's healthy living, clean air, good food, and good beer."

Daniel calls his property The Cove and operates it as a guest house. He also offers sailing and stand-up paddle boarding excursions on the lake, his backyard.

"This was just land with banana trees. I met the owner because I used to sail in here," he says. "I have a good attorney. We negotiated, and I made a deal. I brought in a surveyor and did my homework… checked everything out. It took about six months before I purchased it."

His father had a real estate business, so Daniel is no stranger to property deals. And The Cove isn't the only property Daniel owns in the area. He has a total of six properties.

"I found each of my properties on my own," he says. "I would drive around and look for people selling. Or ask people if they were willing to sell."

Life in Tronadora is affordable. "I have electricity on two properties right now," he says. "So that runs me about $55 a month because we don't need air conditioning here. And for water on three properties, I pay $44. If you don't buy imported products, things are reasonable… way less than in the States. Taxes are starting to rise, yet last year I paid under $4,000 for six properties. And I spend about $500 a month on food."

Daniel takes advantage of the good deals he can find in Liberia, about an hour's drive away. He loves going to the warehouse store Pricesmart and a butcher where Daniel can buy $100 of high-quality beef (rib eye and tri-tip cuts) that he divides into about 16 meals.

Daniel has found the healthcare to be good in Costa Rica. However, he does believe the Caja, the socialized medical system, is only good when you have an emergency—as for many procedures, you may have to wait months for an appointment.

"I had stones in my gallbladder, and even though they weren't very painful, I wanted to take care of them as soon as possible," he explains. "The Caja wanted me to come back in 8 months. So, I decided to pay the $5,000 for the surgery out of pocket in the private system. It was still much less than it would cost in the U.S."

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