Costa Rica is a paradise on earth, and it’s no wonder expats love it. The country has something for everyone, from the miles of beautiful coastline to the laid-back locals and everything in between. Mountains, jungles, rivers, and lakes dot the landscape, all nestled between the calm Caribbean Sea to the east and the wild Pacific Ocean to the west.
In addition, there are plenty of opportunities for expats to find their dream property in Costa Rica, and the vibrant expat communities that already exist offer plenty of information to help navigate the process with ease.
However, buying a property in Costa Rica, like in your homeland, is still a big decision and requires careful consideration. Before diving in, it’s essential to arm yourself with as much information as possible and seek advice from a lawyer and an accountant.
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start identifying all the little details that might have slipped your mind. Here, we’ll take a look at five important points that are worth keeping in mind during your search for properties in Costa Rica.
1. The weather is going to be very different
Costa Rica has a tropical climate that is split into two distinct seasons – dry and rainy. But it’s essential to look into the microclimates, as weather patterns can vary significantly from place to place. Higher elevations in the mountains will experience much colder temperatures, particularly after sunset.
On the flip side, humidity rises the closer you are to rivers and lakes, and there may be a chance of flooding during the rainy season. Make sure to research the area thoroughly and double-check the microclimate for any properties you’re interested in.
2. Access to your property might not be as expected
Costa Rica is a land of mountains and jungles, and while many of the roads and general infrastructure are good, there are still exceptions to the rule. For properties that are off the beaten path or relatively old, it’s worth double-checking the conditions of access before you buy. Muddy jungle tracks or crumbling mountain roads may need to be repaired before you can even think about driving your SUV to your new home.
If the property requires work, access may also be an issue for tradesmen and building professionals. Finally, if the access path is on your land, you may be liable for repairs yourself, and this can often be an expensive undertaking.
3. Costa Rica is very safe, but it’s still possible to get burned
Costa Rica is among the safest countries in Latin America, but when it comes to buying property, there are still plenty of sharks out there willing to take money from naïve expats looking to buy into their dream.
Make sure to use a trustworthy real estate agent who will help you navigate the process and find your dream property. You can also benefit from the advice of expats who already call Costa Rica home, helping you to avoid known scammers or dodgy lawyers and accountants.
4. Your property is not guaranteed to have services
Services that you take for granted back home may not always be available — particularly for older properties, anyone looking to live away from the hustle and bustle of the busier areas, and people looking to build from scratch.
Before making any final decisions, you should always check that electricity, water, and other services exist in the area and can be connected without too much hassle. It’s important to note that anything too far away from the property is likely to become very expensive when you come to connect.
Of course, there’s always the option of renewable energy such as solar power, and Costa Rica’s climate is ideal for such setups. However, it’s important to make sure that the property has enough space and proper orientation for solar panels, as well as any necessary permits and zoning regulations.
5. You can get a mortgage in Costa Rica, but it’s not easy and it’s probably expensive
Most expats generally already have financing in place when it comes to purchasing property in Costa Rica, be it in the form of cash savings or mortgages from home. That being said, it is now possible for foreigners to get a mortgage within Costa Rica. However, it’s fair to say that it’s probably more hassle than it’s worth.
Costa Rican banks are extremely conservative when it comes to lending and interest rates are usually very high. It is generally advised to explore your financing options in your home country before looking at mortgages in Costa Rica. However, if all else fails, there is still a possibility to get financing in your new home.
Buying property in Costa Rica is a unique and exciting experience. It can be a great opportunity to own a piece of paradise and enjoy the country’s stunning landscapes, warm weather, and welcoming locals. However, it’s important to do your research and consider all aspects before making any final decisions.
Consulting with a trustworthy real estate agent, lawyer, and accountant is highly recommended. This will help you navigate the process with ease and avoid any potential pitfalls. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind the weather patterns and microclimates of the area, the accessibility of the property, and the availability of services. Finally, financing should be considered carefully, and it’s usually best to explore options in your home country before pursuing mortgages in Costa Rica.
With proper planning and research, buying property in Costa Rica can be a smooth and enjoyable process. And once you’ve found your dream property, you can begin to enjoy all the wonderful benefits that this beautiful country has to offer.