Costa Rica Investment – Real Estate, Retire and Live

Lower real estate costs,

Real Estate costs are down, now may be the best time to buy, invest or retire in Costa Rica.

My first time in Jaco (about 20 years ago) it was a sleepy and traditional Costa Rican town that did not even have a stop light. Three years ago the skyline was filled with high-rise construction on the feeding frenzy of developers and speculators investing in property. However, that has changed, most investors are doing damage-control, regrouping and wondering how to deal in the slump of the real estate market. Many have given the property back to the formal owners or banks. Those that invested 5-8 years ago are looking at the same property values today. And those with bucks are holding on knowing that anytime the market will change.

That time is now and the most to gain are the ones that made small investments and had the holding power.

The Costa Rica real estate market is slowly but surly correcting itself. One of our accounts between mid 2007 and mid 2008 sold 10 properties and since sold zero when the market came to a screeching halt in mid 2008. This was a time when Costa Rica banks stopped lending money to developers. However, that account in the last 4 months has seen a surge in real estate inquires and hits the website under various Costa Rica real estate keywords and others are experiencing the same. There are many inquires on condos and land and it is a buyers market.

A good sign the market is coming around.

As always cash talks. Property values are down and any investor that has a fair amount of bucks there are a bunch of eager sellers that will make any deal, many are now accepting some sort of mortgage terms to carry back the balance. Some are making deals like, I provide the land, you build, and we split the profit.  This may be the best time to buy in Costa Rica property.

Even if property values go up and down, it is still one of the best investments a person can make and here are some reasons why.

Costa Rica’s living expense is cheaper than the U.S, making it a desire place to retire and live.  The country has good year around climate and it is close to the United States. I have seen air fares as low as $400 round trip.  There are also direct and daily flights from Europe.

Many developments are gated communities, which offer good security and peace of mine to those that want to retire. Home owner fees can be as little as $25/month  with pool, recreation room, 24/7 security and lawn service.

Probably one of the biggest draws is the Costa Rica’s  medical costs, and it is getting better all the time with costs as low as 80% cheaper than that of the U.S. And some U.S. insurance companies are now providing coverage for Costa Rica. In April, 2010, Costa Rica hosts the first medical tourism conference, which is getting the attention of those in the medical  insurance fields. Plastic and Orthopedic Surgery and  diabetes cure are just a few of the medical draws.

Costa Rica is one of the biologically wealthiest nations in the world. Its unparalleled and impressive scenic beauty reinforced by a consolidated system of protected wildlife areas and eco-businesses. The country’s varied natural environments include lowland rainforests, coral reefs, sultry swamps and lush cloud forests. Each is home to a wealth of animal life. It is one of the best eco-friendly countries in the world.

The Costa Rica government is socially and politically stable.

Costa Rica Medical
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  1. Willy Rojas says:

    Mr William Jones,where in CR are you looking or would like to live?My sister in law has a very nice house that I think is available located in El Tirol in the province of Heredia,up in mountains very quiet and nice place.If you are interested I could have you guys contact and work the details.

  2. William Jones says:

    Looking for any information on Rentals in CR. I want to move there within the next 6 months but am having trouble locating a reasonable rental. If anyone can assist me in this area I would be appreciated.

    Semper Fi
    William Jones
    USMC Ret.

  3. With many countries pricing people out of their comfort zone, many are packing up and moving overseas to Places like Costa Rica and Panama Latin America where the cost of living is much more realistic. Examples of living in Chitre, Herrera province. For a 3 Bedroom house; a maid will cost you $120 US per month, Electricity (1 Air Conditioner) $30 US, Water $7, internet $30 Per month, 1 week food for 3 $80. Plus the fantastic discounts that are offered on the pensionado visa with takes around 2 weeks to arrange and allows you to stay in the country without limitation. Chitre Panama is by far the 1st choice for many locals as well as the international marketplace who see the potential increase in investing here now.

  4. Samantha Shine says:

    I would love to retire to Costa Rica!! Have been reading up on the country and speak minimal Spanish…I am hoping my disability comes through within the next six months to a year. Love that the natural beauty of the country is preserved by law and I have always enjoyed not going on “gringo time,” so I believe I will be just fine in CR. I want to be able to afford medical and dental care again and not choose between meds and food, just saying!

  5. Alberto says:

    One of the reasons why you will love coming to Costa Rica to retire is that its nature, beautiful as it is, has been well protected by law. The national park system is large, and the laws set limits on what can be done in different places that have different legal status. Dealing with the institutions that take care of that can be slow, scary, expensive or frustrating, but at least their results are predictable, and a good lawyer can tell you the exact legal status of what you are buying, so you know if you are heading into trouble or not.
    In a way, it is not very different from US zoning laws: you would never expect that you can get away with violating them, or that they are easy to change.
    Now, that is a good thing. Of course, it is sad to hear cases like Bob´s, mentioned above, where a buyer with good intention was caught unaware and ended up losing. But, as a Costa Rican, I am happy that the Gandoca Beach area is being protected and that the cases are being resolved implementing what the law says, even if it is bad for some people, including important attorneys.
    If this bothers you, if you would prefer to live in a place where the law can be changed with a bit of money or violated with a bit more, if you think that environmental protection is just a bothersome nuisance, then indeed, invest in Panama, as Bob suggests. Maybe your life expectancy is short enough not to worry about how the very natural beauty that drew you there disappears before your eyes (along with the property´s value). And if your wall is high enough, you may not worry about the other differences between them and us.
    If, on the other hand, you want to know that the beautiful piece of nature you are buying in 2011 will still be beautiful and natural in 2031, maybe you want environmental laws to protect your property from degradation by the neighbors, and to come to a place where laws are taken more seriously. And you may want to come to a place that cares about the poor not being as poor, and about crime not being as bad. And you may care that the place has been stable for a century, not a decade. Welcome to Costa Rica.
    We understand that the $2 billion (not $1 billion) tourism business depends on natural preservation. That is why we prefer to fall in the dark side of the occasional big lawyer or careless investor, than to break our laws, Bob. So that the beauty that attracts visitors today will continue being there, and attracting visitors, for years to come.

  6. This is great information to know when researching moving to CR.

  7. Janis says:

    I’m thinking I’ll be retiring to CR in the next 4-6 yrs. I’m concerned, however, about the amount of theft going on, as well as hearing from several sources that toilet paper cannot be flushed down any of the toilets. Can someone currently living in CR confirm or deny these two issues?

    • Costa Rica like anywhere else does have its crime, but not like some major cities. In fact, in the small towns many do not have locks on the doors. And like everywhere one has to use good judgment. Chances are you would be a prime target if walking down a dark alley at 2am or flashing a wad of money around in a shopping mall. Common sense is the best sense.

      Some of the larger tourist towns (like San Jose and Jaco) do have their crime, but still, Costa Rica is still the safest country in all of Latin American. People do not worry about drive bys or random shooting as Mexico is known for. And yes we have heard all the stories, but 90% of those are caused by people being stupid, like the egoistic Gringo surfers who start wave hogging, and cutting locals out of waves. Then they go back to the SUV they rented and find it broken in and all their stuff stolen.

      Here read this How Not to Get Robbed

      Years ago when the sewer systems were not up to standards it became a habit of not flushing toilet paper (lines were to small) because they would clog. Many joked, the reason for this is that Costa Rican would then make a habit of flushing anything down. However, North Americans do not do that, and the current homes being build are built to American standards which use larger sewer/drainage pipes and thus there is very little or no problems. Septic tank lines are also made bigger and spread out over a wider area, again to prevent stoppage.

      You will still see in homes, small hotels and restaurants etc, a waste paper basket next to the toilet, old habits are hard to break.

      The tourist areas with larger hotels and restaurants, do not have the “little waste paper basket.”

  8. Before you invest in Costa Rica real estate you should be forwarned about the agrarian laws and the threat to your investment.

    I have two friends; one a Tico who is a prominent lawyer in San Jose and the other a US Citizen. Together they own a 30 acre parcel in the Caribbean coast in the Gondoca National Forest which they have owned since 1987. This is under the direct control of the Minaet which is a government ministry that is responsible for the Environment, Communications and Energy. The local officers of the Minaet in Talamanca and 4 of the 6 directors of the municipality have banded together to steel this property. It began in 2002 and although the local court sided with the theives, they had no evidence and it was overturned by the National Appeals court in 2004. Still they did not give up and they continued to try and extort money out of the owners. Then earlier this year they aparently chased away the security guard and proceeded to build a house, a road and a bridge across a small river to the property next door that they own. All of this without permits in a protected reserve. They removed all documents from the municple records and replaced them with their own documents in defiance of the National Court of Appeals.

    The Tico partner and his assistants visited the property and were threatened by the Minaet officers.

    This begs the question as to whether you can trust an investment in Costa Rica as a Tico much less being a foreigner when you can’t even trust the very offices who are employed to protect your rights.

    Fortunately, this case is being brought to the highest levels of the Costa Rican government because one of the two owners is an attorney in San Jose and is really pissed off. Not just because it is a threat to his personal investment but because Costa Rice relies heavily on the over USD$1 billion in revenue spent by tourism and foreign residence annually. Neighboring countries such as Panama are looking more atttractive due to their rating far higher on the list of countries that protect foreign investors. Costa Rica rate in the bottom 10% of countries who do not protect foreign investors right next to Iran.

    If Costa Rica intents to improve its track recoord it should start with assuring that its own public officers uphold the laws of the country.

  9. Its so good to hear the positive real estate news. The market seems like its been down for a while. I guess cash has always been king but nice to hear banks are starting to lend again.


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  2. Costa Rica has some of the best yoga places and retreats in the world – nice post

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