Costa Ricans Prefer to Work Alone in Business
The individualistic spirit of the Tico is reflected more in real estate than in anything else, though it still predominates in business enterprises. Through the 1960s, the largest multi-story buildings existing in San José were those constructed and owned by two or three wealthy individuals. Such is the case of Pedro Raventos, who in the 1950s built office and commercial buildings for rent, and of Jaime Solera who constructed a large apartment building complex on the western end of Morazán Park. Raventos had made his money as an importer of building materials. Solera earned his wealth also as an important importer primarily of flour (Gold Medal brand) from the States and paper from Canada for the main national dailies.
Today with the high costs of materials and labour, even wealthy individuals by themselves can no longer afford to own a ten or fifteen floor building. The largest structures seen on San José's skyline are owned either by the government or one of the autonomous state entities. The remaining multi-story buildings are of joint ownership or belong to wealthy state and private banks.
Ever since colonial times the Tico has yearned for a small plot of land in which to farm. In fact, Costa Rica has been known historically, especially in its Central Valley, for having its land divided among many small owners where each has a couple of acres or a few more. Not so in the vast plains of Guanacaste Province where the land is owned by only a few individuals with haciendas measuring thousands of acres each.
As to homes and apartments, even if he's only renting, the average Tico always refers to "my house", "my garage", and "my back yard." He's really not satisfied until he owns his own shelter. Though this spirit of home ownership and individuality is practically universal, it's definitely reinforced and very well entrenched in the culture of the Tico.
The late Spanish philosopher and University of Costa Rica professor Constantino Láscaris, made a detailed analysis of the Costa Rican character as had previously done Mavis Biesanz. He observed that the original colonists and their descendents have been predominately 'mountain people' because of their preference for living in inland valleys. Lascaris contended that as mountaineers most Costa Ricans have always been conservative and individualistic in nature, a characteristic that is readily noticeable especially by foreigners.