One of the guests who took my monthly Relocation and Retirement tour a couple of years ago recently asked me for advice. He told me that one of the reasons he had moved to Costa Rica was to seek peace and quiet. Much to his surprise he found neither because of some problematic neighbors.
As you know most Costa Ricans are fun-loving people and like their fiestas (parties). It turns out that such activities often last into the wee hours of the night and can be one of the major causes of conflicts between neighbors. Barking dogs can also cause also be a cause of problems between neighbors.
As a foreigner what can you do if your neighbors make a lot of noise? Let’s suppose that they are having a late-night party and as the night progresses the gathering gets rowdy and the people more and more boisterous. The first thing you should do is approach your neighbor and state in a nice way that the excess of noise is aggravating you. Hopefully, you can speak enough Spanish or your neighbor speaks some English.
If that doesn’t work you can then contact the Fuerza Pública (local police) who will ask your neighbor to tone things down. Although the police show up they cannot force your neighbor to suspend the activity. The job of the police is to act as mediators between neighbors. If the police do come usually most neighbors are cooperative.
My son has a rock band and they rehearse at least once a month at my home. On several occasions an unknown neighbor called the police to complain. Since the rehearsals are in the afternoon all the police could do was ask the boys to town down their amplifiers. However, after 10 pm the police can demand you lower the level of the noise.
What happens if excessive levels of noise turns into a recurrent problem? You can then make a denuncia (formal accusation) with the Ministerio de Salud or Health Ministry. Then one of their employees will then check out the situation to see if the noise exceeds the legal limit permitted by law. If it turns out that the noise is above the legal limit the Ministry can then ask the neighbor to resolve the problem. If the neighbor doesn’t comply then a formal hearing is scheduled between the parties involved to try and resolve the situation.