Resort property ownership in warm climates is becoming increasingly popular amongst the international community and Costa Rica is a popular destination in Central America which many visitors find appealing. Costa Rica occupies a land mass of around 20,000 square miles in the southern part of Central America, including several small islands mostly on the Pacific side. It is much like the Province of Nova Scotia–only smaller–with two long coastlines. The country is only about 200 miles long and 70 miles wide at the narrowest part. It can be compared to British Columbia because of its mountain ranges and lush rain forests and diverse ecology. The three mountain ranges create five stunning and geographically diverse areas. These are the Northern Central Plains, the Northwest Peninsula, the Tropical Lowlands on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts plus the Central Valley where seventy percent of the population resides.
The locals known as Ticos are very friendly and Costa Rica is becoming a popular destination for worldwide tourists from Europe, North America and South America. This also makes it a very attractive place to consider investing in a retirement home, a vacation property or simply an investment property to generate rental income. The cost of living here is considerably lower than in most countries and being one of the most stable governments and economies in Latin America it has attracted investors and developers from around the world. This has also created an established trend of property value appreciation and the future holds promise of a continued upward trend in real estate prices.
According to the locals this is the perfect time to look at a resort property while the Canadian dollar is relatively strong. The climate is right for foreign investment in Costa Rica and in fact the government rewards foreigners who invest more then US$50,000 with a status known as “inversionista” or large investor. This allows the investor to remain in the country for up to six months at a time versus the normal tourist visa of three months. This status also assists and accelerates the immigration process should you decide to take the Tico plunge and become a permanent resident and citizen.
Any real estate investment in a foreign country comes with a certain amount of risk and it is important to eliminate as much as possible going into your investment. Title insurance is one way to ensure that your new property is in fact yours to enjoy. One of the most important aspects of protecting a real estate investment is making sure the title to the property is in proper order. A title guaranty or title insurance policy protects your ownership and use of the property by guarding against unknown and hidden risks that may cause you loss or affect your ownership. In Costa Rica this insurance is available from Stewart Title Latin America, which is the same company which insures land in the US from title fraud. The fact that Stewart Title operates in Costa Rica indicates the growth in foreign investment and that your investment comes with only limited risk. The absence of hurricanes, typhoons, or wild fires, your risk of natural disasters is minimal to both property and home. The main reason to buy title insurance is because many North Americans and Europeans want their property insured and their investment protected. Make sure whatever you are considering as your investment qualifies for this type of insurance.
All beaches on both coats are public domain and no resorts have private beaches but many have ocean views and are priced accordingly. There can be substantial savings by purchasing your new home just a short distance from the beach. For example the pre-construction prices on our Prada del Sol vacation homes start as low as US$139,000 and they are less than half a mile from the closest beach. This could mean a savings as much as US$50,000 for a short exercise to the beach. It is also very common for developers to offer pre-construction prices which are substantially lower than the ultimate retail price when the development is completed. With a gradual payment plan as construction progresses you can enjoy a savings plus a payment plan to maximize your investment potential and minimize your capital outlay.
Currently, demand for vacation properties in Costa Rica is generally greater than the pace of construction and it is considered to be a seller’s market. This makes pre-construction purchases an attractive proposition and usually allows up to one year before you would take possession of your new home. This also indicates that your investment will appreciate in value fairly quickly or there will be plenty of opportunity to rent out your home when you are not using it. The most lengthy and perhaps enjoyable task will be traveling around the country trying to decide where you would like to settle and spend your future leisure time.
Foreigners enjoy the same rights as Costa Ricans when purchasing land and properties. This means that you can own the property outright in your own name or in the name of a corporation formed by a local lawyer. The only advantage to the corporation is beneficial tax laws on any rental income or in the case of joint ownership and future sale of the property. Property taxes are very low in Costa Rica at one quarter of one per cent e.g. Annual taxes for a $200,000 home would be only five hundred dollars annually. Also, most condominium fees are lower than what we are used to in Canada. When you are searching for your home it is best to have your financing arranged before you leave Canada where interested rates are likely to be more favorable. However, it is possible to arrange local mortgages if your credit rating is satisfactory. Usually after making an offer on a property closing is within thirty to sixty days and the full purchase price is required at that time. In the case of some new developments such as Tico Time’s Prada del Sol much of the work can be handled in Canada through their Canadian agent.
This is a country of unequaled beauty, with friendly people, a high standard of living and a great concern for the preservation of the natural environment. It is well known for the importance it places on peace, education and democracy earning it the reputation as the “Switzerland of Central America”. In 1949 the government abolished the army and allocated all would be military expenses to education and health care ensuring the future social wealth for all citizens. While the roads and some of the infrastructure are somewhat primitive, the natural charms of this tropical paradise remain untouched and unspoiled.
The immigrant community is well established in the capital city of San Jose, the coastal resort at Manuel Antonio National Park and in several other towns throughout the countryside. It is definitely a place that is attracting attention from many tourists and future growth of local businesses is almost guaranteed.
All of these factors combined together explains the booming real estate market and why Costa Rica is one of the new choices for investment and possible future retirement plans. Visit for a holiday and you will understand the magic of this tropical paradise and why the Ticos are such a happy people.