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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Property in Costa Rica

Posted by Espatriati on May 3, 2021
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Costa Rica is a captivating country nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, famous for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and incredible biodiversity. The country’s stable government, friendly locals, and attractive investment opportunities have made it a popular destination for expats and property investors alike. If you’re considering buying property in Costa Rica, this guide will provide you with the essential information you need to make an informed decision.

  1. Reasons for Buying Property in Costa Rica

There are many compelling reasons for buying property in Costa Rica, including:

  • A growing economy: Costa Rica’s economy has been on the rise for several years, offering investment opportunities and a favorable environment for property ownership.
  • Retirement destination: Many retirees are drawn to Costa Rica’s low cost of living, excellent healthcare system, and warm climate.
  • Vacation property: Costa Rica is a popular vacation spot, and owning a rental property can provide a significant income stream.
  • Relocation: The quality of life and natural beauty of Costa Rica make it an appealing place to call home.
  1. Popular Locations for Property Purchase

When buying property in Costa Rica, location is key. Some popular regions to consider include:

  • Central Valley: Home to the capital city of San José, the Central Valley offers a mix of urban and suburban living, with excellent infrastructure and services.
  • Pacific Coast: Known for its beautiful beaches and resort towns, the Pacific Coast is a popular choice for vacation properties and retirement living.
  • Caribbean Coast: The Caribbean Coast offers a laid-back vibe and a unique blend of Afro-Caribbean culture, perfect for those looking for a more relaxed lifestyle.
  • Northern Highlands: The Northern Highlands provide a cooler climate and boast stunning landscapes, ideal for nature lovers and eco-conscious buyers.
  1. Legal Requirements and Restrictions

Foreigners can legally own property in Costa Rica, but it’s essential to understand the legal requirements and restrictions when buying property:

  • Ownership types: There are two main types of property ownership in Costa Rica: fee simple and concession. Fee simple ownership grants full rights to the owner, while concession ownership is a lease from the government, usually for beachfront property.
  • Legal due diligence: Always hire a reputable attorney with experience in real estate transactions to ensure that the property title is clear and there are no liens or encumbrances.
  • Zoning regulations: Verify zoning regulations for your desired property, as they may affect your ability to build, rent, or use the property as intended.
  1. Financing and Payments

Understanding the financing options and payment processes is crucial when buying property in Costa Rica:

  • Financing: Local financing options for foreigners are limited, and interest rates may be higher than in your home country. Many buyers opt for financing through their home country or pay cash.
  • Escrow: Utilize an escrow account to protect your funds during the property purchase process.
  • Currency: Property transactions are typically carried out in US dollars, although some may be conducted in Costa Rican colones.
  1. Property Taxes and Maintenance Costs

Take into account property taxes and maintenance costs when budgeting for your Costa Rican property:

  • Property taxes: Annual property taxes in Costa Rica are relatively low, typically ranging from 0.25% to 0.4% of the property’s registered value.
  • Luxury tax: A luxury tax applies to properties valued above a specific threshold, currently around $230,000.
  • Maintenance costs: Consider the costs of maintaining your property, including utilities, landscaping, and property management fees if you plan to rent it out.

We wrote a guide a few years ago about moving to Costa Rica. It has been updated a few times due to crank reviewers on Amazon, so hopefully it will be useful to you in its current form. You can find it here.

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