We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Property purchase advise needed

2 posts
Save Topic
Property purchase advise needed

Looking for advise as to where to get the best value for a possible investment/retirement home in CR. Do's & Don'ts, pitfalls. Any advise would be appreciatted. Never been there before but from people I have spoken to this appears to worth exploring. Thanks.

Tampa, FL
Destination Expert
for San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
2,234 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Property purchase advise needed

Hoo boy. there have been whole books written on this subject. Some of the "classics" are "The Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica" by Christopher Howard, "Choose Costa Rica" by John Howells and "Living Abroad in Costa Rica" by Erin Van Rheenen. If you can't find those or you'd prefer to see what you can dig up on the net you should visit the Association of Residents of Costa Rica website at www.arcr.net. Aside from their forum, which is better geared to answer this type of question than a travel/tourism forum such as this, they also hold free seminars on the last Thursday or Friday of each month in SJ which I've heard are well worth attending.

In fact, if you think you might really be serious about moving to CR, you should really come down and see it first before you get too far into it. Once you see it for yourself, it may turn out not to be for you. It isn't for everyone. Also keep in mind experiencing a place while on vacation is not the same as living there everyday, so try to look at it with that eye.

You could and should do a lot of research on the web but keep in mind that ultmately that is not nearly as good as getting information on the ground. English language websites are geared to gringo readers and the prices quoted reflect that. Do you speak spanish? If not a good way to get a taste of living in CR might be to go for an extended stay in one of the spanish immersion programs (spanish programs in the mornings during the week with afternoons and weekends free to explore around and check out different regions and neighborhoods).

I don't think you'll find too many real "values" at this point in the most popular areas for gringos such as Escazu near SJ or more popular beach area like MA or Tamarindo. Prices are still much cheaper than they are in Florida, but they are grossly inflated by historical CR standards and how much higher they will go is an open question. You'll run into many CR RE promoters who will tell you the sky is the limit, but there are some ominous trends happening in CR society. Crime is increasing rapidly. The much vaunted social safety net which includes their prized medical system is starting to seriously fray at the edges. And as local RE prices increase, other retirement destinations like Panama are beginning to look more and more like better values. Relative bargains in CR can still be found in the more "tico" areas, but the trade-off is that many expats living in those areas wind up feeling isolated if more completely removed from their compatriots and those areas may be more devoid of services and amenities that most gringos have become accustomed to.

A few other general pointers are that 1) you need to be extra careful that you have clear title to the property when you buy it. There are a number of reasons for this but basically your best bet is to find a good Tico lawyer you can trust and have him look out for you and then you also look over his shoulder and ask lots of questions. 2) Find a tico who can assist you with your search and have him (or her) approach the owner first so you can establish the tico price otherwise you'll probably wind up paying at least 30% more than you should really have to. 3) be wary of most of what people tell you. Once you start your search you'll probably find various RE promoters coming out of the woodwork (it seems to be a favorite sport of some ex-pats). For example, that cable connection (sewage hook-up/electrical/etc. fill-in-the-blank) that they assured you was only 6 months away may not really wind up being available for years. The regulations for brokers are not nearly as tight as they are in the US.

Some other links you might want to check out that will give you info on CR as a retirement/investment destination as well as comparative information on a whole host of other countries include: www.escapeartist.com and www.internationalliving.com