Costa Rica is a very popular destination for people looking to move abroad. Named one of the top ten places to live and retire by International Living, most people can find a good reason to settle down in this small country. Costa Rica offers countless benefits to its visitors and residents, from adventure tourism to healthy retirement, but a significant factor determining many people’s decisions to relocate is the real estate market. As the housing market becomes significantly more difficult in countries across the globe, Costa Rica continues to maintain housing prices and ownership policies that will appease any potential buyer. Many people are choosing to take advantage of this buyer’s market, including retirees, aspiring entrepreneurs, and young couples hoping to own a home to raise their families. As people from all walks of life choose to buy real estate in Costa Rica, it’s important to understand the factors influencing their decision.
Low Risk Atmosphere
Costa Rica is in a unique position among Latin American countries as it has enjoyed over 60 years of uninterrupted, true democracy. While other countries have found themselves in civil wars, Costa Rica has dedicated itself toward peace and growth. Since the resolution of the country’s last war in the 1940’s, Costa Rica has chosen to disband its army. This means no taxation for military expenditures; instead, financial gains prioritize the education system and city maintenance. This may be one of the only countries in Central America where you will not experience protests, riots, or political unrest during your visit. The political climate of a region is an extremely important factor in any investment regardless of whether you plan on actually living in the country. The last thing you want is for political turmoil to threaten your plans, and the stable political climate in Costa Rica will help ensure the security of your investments and any related profits.
Costa Rica is also praised as one of the safest countries in Central or South America. This region has proudly maintained an extremely low homicide rate (currently 10.3 people per 100,000) and has taken strong action against gangs and organized crime. Petty crime may still exist, as it does in any country, but the rate of violent crime is extraordinarily low, making this a more suitable area for a newcomer looking for a low-risk environment to start a business or relocate a family. This will also make for an easy scouting trip, as when you land in Costa Rica to view potential investments, you can feel free to walk around the city without a guide or driver.
The tourism and entertainment industry has been booming in Costa Rica for some time, and locals have acclimated to an influx of tourists as well as immigration to the area. The friendliness of the culture has been mirrored in governmental policies, which are pro small business and pro foreign owned property. As Costa Rica offers a stable political climate, low crime rates, and a welcoming culture, investors feel more confident in the safety of their real estate investments in this small country than they could in neighboring Latin American countries.
Looking into real estate abroad can be tricky business as many countries will require residency for legal ownership. A huge benefit of investing in Costa Rican real estate is that foreign ownership is totally legal and easy due to the instatement of CAFTA (US-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement). This policy extends to citizens of any country around the globe. This means you need no local partner, no locally inscribed business, and no permanent residency visa to make your purchase. This is one of the many ways that the Costa Rican government displays its pro-US and pro-foreign ownership stance. Applying for residency can be a tedious process, but as Costa Rica does not require residency for land or business ownership, you will have no lengthy waiting period before starting to implement your plan in this region. Buying real estate in Costa Rica will also help ease along the process if you do decide to apply for residency, as you can apply for the visa more easily as an investor.
Legal foreign ownership simplifies and secures the process of purchasing real estate in Costa Rica, but the pro-US government is also dedicated to making this process convenient. Unlike its neighboring countries, Costa Rica maintains astonishingly low property tax rates and zero taxes on capital gains resulting from your purchase. This makes an already cost-efficient location even better for the investor on a budget.
Housing Options and Prices
Security and legality make purchasing real estate in Costa Rica possible, but what really convinces most investors is the wide range of modern housing options at extremely affordable prices. The stable economy in Costa Rica has made it possible for the government to focus on modern infrastructure, and this includes both public spaces as well as private homes. You will find a significantly better range of modern home options in Costa Rica than you will in the majority of other Latin American countries. These homes have modern amenities while often maintaining their colonial charm. The traditional architecture may mean central cooling is not available, but air conditioning units are sold in any city. As modern single-family homes have been developed and available for some time, the focus has now shifted to include condos as well. You will be able to find a wide variety of affordable, luxurious condos in almost every major city and beach destination. While choosing between a single-family home and a condo is a personal choice, it’s important to weigh both options.
As foreign-owned property is common in Costa Rica, the process of buying a house or a condo may be significantly easier than you had imagined. There are trusted, accredited real estate agents who speak English, many of whom are expats themselves. These agents will not only understand the variety of options available to you, but they will also be practiced in local policies and regulations. They can ensure a safe purchase of your house and a legal signing of the title (which will be valid locally as well as in your home country) in a reasonable time frame. Finding a reliable real estate agent is extremely important, as this will help you more accurately analyze your options, make your purchase, and ensure the security of your investment. This will also make it possible for you to return to your home country while your purchase is in escrow.
The affordability of houses and condos in this region may mean that you find yourself buying into a much more luxurious lifestyle than would otherwise be possible. A beach front condo in a tourist destination may possibly cost you as little as $40,000 (spanning up to $500,000 for ultra-luxurious amenities), so you may have some excess budget to use as you plan your purchase. This can mean higher quality materials as you create a business, or extra luxuries for those of you planning to live in your newly purchased property. In Costa Rica, full-time maid services can be purchase for as little as $15 a day and driving services, private tutoring, and professional gardeners are available for affordable rates as well. Deciding to purchase a home in Costa Rica means access to modern infrastructure and services at still affordable rates.
Entrepreneurship comes with inherent risks, but taking advantage of an emerging market is always a good start. Costa Rica is modernizing at an astonishing rate and with that comes an influx of tourism, both adventure focused and high-end, luxury focused. This opens a high-gains market in the tourism, lodging, food, and entertainment industries. Many investors are looking to make a profit by opening a business in their new destination countries, and Costa Rica makes it extremely easy. In an area where English is widely spoken as a professional language with an already-made opening in multiple industries, you might easily find a niche for your skills and abilities. This is the opportunity many are looking for to follow their passions and open a business. Small businesses struggle in the United States to make ends meet, but in Costa Rica, entrepreneurship is still one of the top ways to earn a comfortable living. This makes the bar, restaurant, or bed-and-breakfast you always dreamed of significantly more realistic as a goal. A modernizing society with an improving economy and increased standard of living also creates a need for additional services. Whatever your educational or professional background may be, there will be a niche for you in Costa Rica. Buying local real estate and learning how to market yourself will go a long way in making the business of your dreams a reality.
Income Property Opportunities
Not everyone looking to buy real estate in Costa Rica plan to actually live in their purchases. Many use real estate abroad as vacation homes, preferring to vacation in a tropical setting rather than purchasing a cabin in the North American mountains. Costa Rica, with its booming year-round tourism industry, offers the perfect opportunity to buy a vacation home with income-property potential. As tourism in Costa Rica becomes more and more popular, the country has experienced a sharp increase in short term property rentals. More people are looking to rent houses and condos during their stay rather than hotel rooms. Multiple websites and house-swap companies list rentals in Costa Rica, and during the high tourism seasons, these rentals fill up extremely quickly. There are companies in Costa Rica which can help you manage your home and guests, and even help arrange bookings. This means you can make a considerable income off your vacation property while you are not using it, and still trust that a reputable group is looking after the safety of your investment. If you choose to buy a beach front condo, you may be making a very considerable profit off these rentals, and can often arrange for the building’s administration to arrange and manage your clients. Not only will you gain a tropical vacation setting, but you will increase your monthly finances by managing this very low work load business.
Regardless of how sure you are of your business or property, it’s important to have a guarantee that the surrounding environment will live up to your standards. This is why many people choose to come to Costa Rica over neighboring countries. While surrounding countries may offer some lower prices, you will not receive the security of your purchase nor the public amenities that Costa Rica can offer. This small country puts significant effort into maintaining safe and clean public places, complete with city parks and conservation reserves. You will find reliable amenities (including internet), professional services, and top-rated schools for those moving with young children. You will also find dependable public transport, public and private mailing systems, as well as updated hospital and emergency care centers. Costa Rica has two international airports, making your transit easy, as will be the transit of any incoming guests to your property. Flying into Costa Rica is often no more expensive than a typical domestic flight, and as life can be rather affordable once you land, your destination abroad may be an even more cost-effective trip than staying in country. These infrastructure developments are important for those hoping to move to Costa Rica full time and those purchasing a rental property alike. Although the region is still developing, you can count on more modern services and comforts in Costa Rica than you will most likely find in the neighboring countries.
As is true in any Latin American country, Costa Rica may experience some power outages or difficulties in finding specific products, but these small inconveniences are part of life in any region. Life in Costa Rica puts significantly less emphasis on material goods, so you may find yourself quickly forgetting products that you previously could not live without.
Built-In Tropical Getaway
Whether you are buying a home to relocate your family permanently to Costa Rica or simply want a vacation spot for a couple weeks out of the year, your purchase comes complete with a tropical getaway. Costa Rica has hundreds of beaches along both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, each region with its unique ecology and culture. Buying a home and starting a business is a less daunting task when you know you will be living on white sand beaches with palm trees swaying in your backyard. Escaping the cold winters in your home country is also much easier when you know you have a home waiting for you on these tropical beaches. The steamy beach life not for you? In Costa Rica, that’s not a problem. This small country is known as a nature lovers haven for good reason. Costa Rica has 12 distinct microclimates, including not only sandy beaches but rainforests, mountains, cloud forests, and rocky volcanic area as well. Regardless of your preferences for climate and weather patterns, you’ll find a region in Costa Rica that works for you. Owning a home in the climate of your dreams, within a relaxed and peaceful culture, can make a considerable difference in your life. It’s no surprise that Costa Rica was given the highest rankings on the Happy Life Years Study by Happy Planet on multiple occasions!
An all-around winning purchase
There are many factors which come into play when you’re considering buying real estate abroad, and these factors change considerably depending on your goal for this purchase. Costa Rica has been a popular choice among people from all over the globe as life and business in the country come with obvious benefits. The stability of the country’s government and economy has been encouraging to investors looking for a low-risk purchase, and the mixture of modern infrastructure and traditional culture is appealing to people from every walk of life. As Costa Rica remains a clear front runner among Latin American countries for expat life and foreign-owned business, its benefits may convince you to make the plunge and join life in the happiest planet on earth.