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Living in Paradise – Marcia Oro

Sitting to write this article has given me an opportunity to realize that my current life and involvement with real estate has been the result of a number of serendipitous events. That is not to say that it fell in my lap but it certainly has evolved in an interesting way.

And it was hard to decide whether to start with, “Back when I was an overstressed accountant,” or “Today I am a happy and successful Realtor living in paradise.” Let’s get the history out of the way quickly and then spend time talking about how REIN has propelled my career as a real estate investor and Realtor.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s my day job was that of a controller of an oil company in Calgary. There is nothing but stress when it is your job to report numbers (and quite often not the ones they would like to hear) to a group of oil company managers. I knew I needed to make a change but also needed to come up with an income stream to support the post oil company accountant chapter of my life.

The series of serendipitous events kicked off in January, 2000 when, during a casual conversation with a friend of mine, Kim McMullen, she mentioned she was going to a meeting of a real estate investment group called REIN. I decided to go along to see what it was all about and, as they say, the rest is history.

We joined REIN at the first meeting and immediately put what we had learned into action. During the next month we bought five houses as a starter. It was the day of assumable mortgages, can make it possible to buy real estate with little down payment. This maximized our return on investment by minimizing the dollars tied up in down payments. Good timing has resulted in these investments increasing in value up to three times the total initial investment value.

Having a residual income stream started I took a sabbatical/vacation to Costa Rica in 2003. It was defnitely time to figure out what I was going to do next and what better place than the land of “Pura Vida” to spend quality time with myself and come up with ideas on how to spend the next years of my life.

The phrase “Pura Vida” is used often and with enthusiasm in Costa Rica. Literally translated it means pure life. To Costa Ricans it means good life, tranquillity, peace of mind, happiness, welcome, goodbye and all that is sweet in life. I realized that this is how I wanted to live my life, in a Pura Vida state of mind and where the weather is nothing short of perfect.

Serendipity kept on my side when I ended up spending some time in the Southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica, a paradise where the mountains roll right down to meet the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It is an area where there is still plenty of undeveloped land alongside expat communities. And, of course, now that I understood real estate investing a bit, the trip was also for the purpose of checking out real estate investment opportunities in Costa Rica.

I came away knowing that this was possibly the opportunity of a lifetime and exactly the change that I was seeking. Being an accountant I did not move too quickly. Over the next two years I made sure that my real estate cash flow, potential future capital gains and the sale of my home in Calgary would support me for my move to Costa Rica and beyond. And, yes, it all added up.

So, fast forward a couple of years and I made the move to Costa Rica to the village of Ojochal, bought a house with a vacant lot adjacent to it and built a spec home. I ended up living in the spec home for a few years before selling it and now live in another home in the same little community. This brings me to a total of three houses that I have either built from the ground up or bought and remodelled here in Costa Rica.

Knowing I liked real estate from an investment perspective I decided to try my hand at being a real estate agent. There are a bunch of buyers in Costa Rica that are investors so there would be at least one client type that I would immediately identify with. It has turned out that being a real estate agent is the perfect job to blend my finance and accounting background and hands on real estate investment experience. Making the final deal and seeing both buyers and sellers happy with the outcome is an amazingly fulilling experience. And I have made some amazing friends and acquaintances along the way. And with that, serendipity had come and gone once again.

In 2013 I had the pleasure of helping a delightful and colourful couple find their home in paradise. They were chosen to be featured in an episode of House Hunters International, co-starring me as their Realtor. I was amazed to learn just how much work goes into the filming of an episode of House Hunters and ended that week exhausted and exhilarated. This serendipitous event added another aspect to my real estate experience I like to describe as television star!

Life today is truly amazing. I can say that I love my life and love my job. Whenever I stand on one of the amazing beaches around Ojochal or look up at the majestic mountains with cascading waterfalls, I have to remind myself that I actually live here. This is my reality show!

Marcia Oro began her career as a real estate investor in 2000. She has since joined the team at Osa Tropical Properties in Costa Rica as sales agent in January 2011. In 1990, Marcia received her designation as a Certified Management Accountant through the Society of Management Accountants of Alberta. She can be reached at

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