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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Buying property in Costa Rica, Part 1: Due diligence

Relocation to a new country can be a daunting task. Not doing the correct research can most often mean the difference between success and failure. According to unofficial statistics, 40% of the expats who move here return home. Why?

There are six scenarios based on what I have observed during the 41 years that I have lived here.

  1. People receive incorrect information about living here.
  2. Daily life is not what many expect.
  3. Deteriorating health can play a role in their decision.
  4. Some never make an effort to immerse themselves in the culture, learn the language or take advantage of all the country has to offer. 
  5. Many became homesick and miss their family and friends back home.
  6. Couples often face problems because one person ends up liking the country and the other does not.

Nowadays, most people go on the web, put terms in the search engine like “Moving, retiring or relocating to Costa Rica.” There are virtually hundreds if not thousands of websites on a variety of related subjects that will appear.

More often than not, people end up becoming more confused after reading the voluminous amount of material that is available than when they started.

It seems like every expat has a blog or book about tips and advice on living here. There are also a good number of expat forums which can contribute to an overload of information and confusion.

The problem is who and what to believe and how foreign residents with little understanding of the culture, people and language perceive the country. Don’t get me wrong: There is useful information floating around out there! Unfortunately, there is also false, inaccurate and often misleading information. One has to be guided in the right direction to separate fact from fiction.

It is imperative to contact a time-tested organization like the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). They have been lending a helping hand to newcomers for decades.

Whether you have visited the country previously or not, one option is to take a relocation/retirement tour. By taking Real Estate tour, you avoid a lot of potential mistakes that could be very costly.

By going on a Real Estate tour you:

  • Obtain unbiased and objective information. Most websites hyping real estate and vacations often contain incorrect and outdated information.
  • Make the right contacts and receive time-tested and practical insider information.
  • A attend a valuable two-day, one-stop seminar by experts who live here in the following fields: residency, shipping your belongings, health care medical insurance options, real estate for rentals and purchasing a home, Internet, cell phone service and television, meeting those who have relocated and learning about their experiences, banking and tax obligations for U.S. citizens, cultural differences, how to learn Spanish and hundreds of tips.
  • The chance to tour the best areas for living.
  • To learn about shopping options and availability of local and imported foods. A visit to a large outdoor farmers market should be included.
  • Visits to expats’ home to see how they live.
  • A sample Spanish lesson at the country’s best language institute.
  • An opportunity to sample local restaurants and typical Costa Rican food.
  • To test drive the country and see if it is for you.

The bottom line

The information and advice you receive from a tour and seminar will help anyone be miles ahead before they start, save you money and time in the long run, make the move almost seamless and increase the chances of successfully living here. Believe me, it is very difficult to do this type of due diligence on one’s own. Thousands of foreign residents have been helped over the years from this type of service service.

About the Writer

Christopher Howard has been conducting monthly relocation/retirement tours and writing retirement guidebooks for more than 30 years. See

He has a #1 relocation/retirement blog at:, is also the author of the updated 19th edition of “New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica — the official guide to relocation” the one-of-a-kind bestselling e-book, “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish” and the Costa Rica Chronicles —the good bad, and ugly people and places”. All of his books and more are available from

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