An interview with Cristina Jones, International Real Estate & Hospitality Entrepreneur!
With 20 years of revolutionising the industry, Cristina Jones is the Costa Rica Expert, President & Co-Founder of WERCR. Her Expat Life is delighted to have had the opportunity to speak with her.
Cristina reveals what motivated her career success and how life is as an expat in Costa Rica!
1. We would like to congratulate you on co-founding 'WE ARE COSTA RICA'.. can you tell us about this family-run business?
Thank you! WERCR is a real estate firm focused on international investors and ex-pats looking to relocate to Costa Rica. Named "WE ARE Costa Rica" based on the authentic portrayal of a company that knows how things are done elsewhere in the world (we hold over 20 years of experience in Miami, New York, Panama, and Caribbean markets as well). yet still essentially local as we're native to Costa Rica. We know what Costa Rica is and how to surf the waves because WE ARE Costa Rican. We Are Costa Rica is a local company with a global vision and understanding, which comes in handy when you need to intertwine cultures.
Henry (my partner) and I own the company, and we're also married; thus, we work and play together, which has aligned our goals as a family and couple. We also have the honor of working with other family members whom one knows you can trust. In the end, our closest staff members have also brought in their extended families in some capacity, which gives us all a larger purpose and a stronger bond.
2. What led to your career success, and how did you get started? Can you tell us about your challenges and how you overcame them?
Perseverance is why we can call ourselves successful today. Nonetheless, there is a natural adaptation that occurs with experience and being able to identify challenges as opportunities for change. I'm originally a hotelier but got into real estate after one of the Hotels I worked with sold and thus selling real estate seemed exciting and a seamless transition. Since I was in the hospitality business in the States, concept creating and product launching for boutique hotels gave me a good base for sales and marketing, which is at the core of what we do in real estate. Moreover, it gave me strong fundaments on customer service; thus, our service today is based on hospitality. We treat our clients with a white-glove concierge-type courtesy that goes the extra mile and underlines our mantra. Buy. Sell. Rent. Invest. Differently by far, we are not your typical real estate agency.
3. You have lived as an expat for a long time…what advice do you have for other females who may wish to live an expat life but feel stuck or fear the expat lifestyle?
I lived abroad for over a dozen years, so while I grew up in Costa Rica, when I returned in my 30s, I was an expat in my own country, giving me some excellent intel. Being an expat broadens your horizons like crazy and changes your heartbeat. After working abroad for so many years, I forged a strong career and was able to apply it in a market where I stood out. The education you get is never learned in a classroom.
My strong advice on the fear of being an expat lies in getting a hold of a helping hand. A helping hand, for that matter, can be a point of contact, service, or a "mentor." As mentioned, There are select concierge-based services for expats relocating to Costa Rica that can be helpful. Everything from community chats on WhatsApp groups to a standard service like that of WERCR.net, where we become an on-call resource for everything you might need, at any time, fun, good, bad, scary, or merry.
I was blessed with a very multicultural family. Thus, I've spoken English and Spanish ever since I could, but I recommend trying to learn the language. However, Costa Rica is highly bi-cultural, and many people speak English; those who don't will try. Learning some basic Spanish before you arrive will make communication and navigation easier. The majority of Costa Ricans speak English and are happy to help.
4. What has been your biggest struggle as a female entrepreneur?
As women, we are natural multi-taskers, and delegating can be challenging, at least it has been for me. However, empowering your people is vital in advancement and you cant do all your follow-through alone in entrepreneurship. Finding ways to control less firsthand and guide more from a macro level is an ongoing learning experience.
5. You are now based full-time in Costa Rica; what do you love about your new home, and why should female digital nomads visit?
Costa Rica has a heartbeat, adventure, wellness, and excellent gastronomy. Whatever you're into, there's a crowd. Or very well, you can keep to yourself. The weather is warm, the people are friendly, and its signature is known as the "Pura Vida lifestyle" ... it all goes here. However, we are also known to be the Swiss of the Americas, recently voted in as one of the world's happiest people. We're a growing nation with technology-filled free zones and some of the world's most prominent tech names operating here; it's a country that's getting ahead without losing its core.
6. As a real estate expert, what advice do you give aspiring ex-pats who want to break into the real estate market? And more specifically, why choose Costa Rica?
Opportunity is the name of the game. Costa Rica has a very intriguing market called "plan B." It's a haven not only for investing but for living. We can live on or off the grid, and you can find many unique properties that will work just as much as a destination retreat or vacation rental as it will a second home. If things ever get complicated, you have a place to run to. We have no army and the ability to grow all our food, two luxuries in other areas. Ultimately accessible from the United States and all main gate cities, some as close as Miami, only a little over two hours away.
As an internationally certified realtor, I suggest connecting with our decades of experience in providing comprehensive advice for expatriates and cross-border families and finding out how we can help guide their investments or alternative residency plans.
7. For first-time investors looking to invest their money wisely, what guidance do you have for them?
Trust the process and the professionals. Things are different e