- “There are big changes in (home country) afoot”
- “We’d like to simplify”
- “Gotta get out of this cold!”
- “We’d like a second home”
- “We’d like a second home that generates income while we are not there”.
- Getting more self-sufficient, going off the grid or at least, partially so.
- Start a yoga (health or other special interest) retreat.
- Live more in touch with nature
So, how does one go about it? If you don’t already live here, Costa Rica is a foreign land. So the initial steps can be a bit daunting.
- They speak Spanish there, don’t they?
- What does it cost to buy land? A house?
- What are the laws?
- Do I need to have a Costa Rican (Tico) partner buy it with me?
- Can I own a property in my personal name or should I use a corporation?
- Who are the realtors in Costa Rica?
- Can I trust them?
- What does it cost to build?
- What about security?
- (add your own)
Costa Rica is a gorgeous land that addresses many of the issues in list 1 above. The 2nd list is taken from everyday conversations in a real estate office in Costa Rica, although the part about who you can trust isn’t so often heard as much as felt.
- Yes, the national language is Spanish and it is common. Your time spent in Costa Rica will be enhanced by any effort you make to learn Spanish. However, the coasts, for the most part, and some inland areas are owned by foreigners. In The Zone (Dominical, Uvita & Ojochal area) you can get by very well with English. All of the real estate offices in these areas speak English, Spanish & French.
- As with anywhere on this planet, the property is valued at what someone is willing to pay for it. The market is like water, it seeks its own level. Within this global evaluation construct, there is some diversity. This diversity is due to the desirability of a given property and the motivation of the seller. Within the diversity is an almost uncanny commonality of evaluation criteria among the available properties.
- I include this question because it is a common question. The answer is beyond the scope of this article. It is obviously essential that the laws be discussed and understood, and this is best handled in conversation with your real estate agent and your lawyer. Some specifics will be addressed here, such as…
- No, you don’t need to have a Tico partner on the title of the property.
- Yes, you can buy a property in Costa Rica and put it in your own name. Over the years the most common construct of ownership has been to put the property in a Costa Rica corporation. The cost of a corporation here is around $600. This practice is changing due to some new corporation laws. More on this in Part 2 (coming soon)
- Here in The Zone there are no real estate offices run by Ticos. They are all foreign owned. The agents that work within these agencies are a mix of nationalities, including Ticos, Canadians, Colombians, Europeans and United Statesians.
- Despite being at #7, I suspect that this question reigns supreme over all other issues when looking to buy a piece of land in Costa Rica. As stated, this unspoken question is almost palpable in initial conversations with prospective buyers. “Am I hearing the straight skinny from this guy/gal?”
I’ve lived in Costa Rica a long time, and so I know many property-owners here, some of whom bought through me, and some of whom have decided to sell. One of these recently confided the concern to me: “I don’t trust them all”. They were selectively listing their property with the ones they “trusted”. I suspect, that all the real estate agents hear this concern as well.
- Rough rule of thumb for evaluation construction costs in Costa Rica – $100 per foot. This can go up or down by roughly $25, depending on your finishes, topography, etc… Please keep in mind these numbers are guides.
- Security concerns affect the property buying decision of many land purchases – anywhere. Some start off by requesting a gated community – or not. The location landscaping, topography and general setting of a home can affect the security of a home.
In Latin America, bars are commonly seen on windows. Back off the beaten path, not so much. Electric gates are a help. Alarms and private security companies are available as well. Discuss this with your realtor – but here again, the matter of trust comes in. Should you believe your commissioned realtor when he/she says “no problem there!”? Talk with the neighbors and members of the community.
Feel free to send a question you may have regarding real estate in Costa Rica and/or specifically in The Zone.
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