Ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera, Costa Rica
Ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera, Costa Rica
Ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera, Costa Rica

Real Estate in Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Expats and retirees talk about real estate in Costa Rica? How do you find a home in Costa Rica? Should you buy or rent? What is the cost of housing?

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How do I find a place to live in Costa Rica?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"We spent 4 years staying for short time in a number of areas. We recognize CA prices are not reflective of Florida or Texas prices. Adjust accordingly. 3 choices: The beach areas: Ridiculously hot & damp; humid so A/C runs non-stop, Where as in Escazu we rarely need it as the temperatures in the Central Valley at 4,000 feet rarely go above 80 or below 63. Rarely use A/C but if we do electricity is crazy cheap in CR unlike CA. The water is great here too, No need anywhere in CR for bottled water like CA. We still love to visit the beach which is only 2 hours away (Pacific side) but just not live there. Central Valley: 3 choices Heredia (nice but a little too rural), Santa Anna (a little too hot & too small, (Although the golf course is amazing there!), and the best in our mind Escazu. The perfect location in Escazu is anywhere close to the Costa Rica Country Club (no we could never afford to belong). Five years ago, we stayed in La Sabana (loved it) first as our home base and after many stays all around CR returned and bought a beautiful condo with high security in Escazu. The cost was 20% of what our condo was in San Diego and 4 times the size! We can walk (or a truly short drive) to so many restaurants, large supermarkets, shops and even two great movie theatres showing films in English! Food was a big worry, yet in Escazu we can buy the same foods we enjoy in the states (and lots of great Italian restaurants!). And virtually no mosquitoes at this elevation unlike the beaches! Also, best hospital in central America only 2 miles away (CIMA, JCHO accredited, many English-speaking docs). Ditto for dentistry. All much cheaper than the states. If you do not know any Spanish (like us) and now retired in your late 60’s, learning a new language can be stressful, Hence Escazu. Our culture shock has been minimal which has been a big relief, but we like the challenges of learning Spanish, & have learned the patience it takes (Tico Time) like spending 3 hours in a bank just to get a new debit card, which stopped working for some unknown reason after a month, needing an attorney to buy a car, etc. But some things are very fast like walking 3 blocks to our internet/TV provider (by the way great hi-speed) and getting service sent to our condo, multiple times, within the hour! And everyone is soooo happy and helpful! The politest most respectful drivers we have ever seen. We have traveled all over the world and have never experienced such absolute courtesy on such a grand scale. Certainly not in the states. And we have made a number of Tico professional friends here, been to their homes (very welcoming) and they have been nothing but helpful, sincere and trustworthy. They truly are the happiest people in the world! By the way we have spent a lot of time in Mexico (my brother lives there) and that is a dangerous unpredictable place compared to CR, but certainly cheaper as is Belize (truly scary)," remarked another foreigner who made the move to Escazu.

"I traveled all over Costa Rica after purchasing a home in Ostional and not being happy. I stayed in San Jose, Arenal, and along the beach towns of the Pacific coast. I then went to an area that was not revealed in all of the social media and publications to see what it was like and stayed at an all inclusive in Tambor. This area was like a diamond in the rough to me. So, I "stumbled" upon it, just traveling around and getting to know Costa Rica," explained one person living in Paquera, Costa Rica.

"Our first home in Costa Rica (CR) was strictly by word of mouth. We had lived in the area for a few months and told just as many people we trusted that we were looking. In just a few months time, we looked at many properties. We got to know the area very well by renting so we knew the neighborhoods we liked and knew what a good price was to pay. We were in no hurry as we were renting at the time so we didn't appea anxious or desperate to the seller. The purchasing process was a breeze. After 8 years in that same location and home, we decided we wanted a quieter area and we finally were able to realize our original dream of having a water view property. 17 years total in CR ... it's working for us," said another expat in Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"It's cheaper to live a little ways outside the city so location was influenced by that. There is also less crime outside the city. I found my apartment by asking around and doing some walking. There won't always be a sign up so, if it looks available, ask," remarked another member in San Marcos, Tarrazú.

"I just wanted to clear up some of the bad reviews of the other guy who posted before me about San Jose, Costa Rica. First of all, if you are planning on moving to Costa Rica for whatever ex-pat experience, if possible, avoid San Jose. It is a very crowded, dense little city that is not all that interesting. Also, foreigners are more susceptible to theft here. That being said, get out of San Jose and live in any of the other great towns all throughout this beautiful country. True, transportation can be mediocre (if insisting on travelling budget), but it definately suffices. It's a small country and travelling from the Pacific to the Carribean can be done in one long day even on the slowest, cheapest bussed routes available," explained one expat living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"1. I have lived in the following areas near San Jose; Zapote, Desamparados, Moravia, and Alajuela. I have also lived in the town of Grecia which is 45 km outside of the capital of San Jose. 2. I now live on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica in the city of Guapiles, County of Pococi, Province of Limon, Costa Rica 3. Major dirrerence, and asset is the people in this area. Although there are only limited foreigners living here, is that the people of this area are truly helpful and friendly. Not because they have to be but because they genuinely like to help others. 4. Even more noticable is that in spite of there being limited employment in the area, they are always willing to greet guests with courtesy and good manners, and a warm greeting and common courtesy. 5. Since there is an abundance of reasonable residential rentals and properties for sale, and a minimal population of foreigners, prices for both as well as the cost of living here are very reasonable. 6. Property taxation is almost non-existant or to say the least extremely reasonable. I have met a friend who has twenty acres or a little over 9 hectares of land with a bar, and cabins that pays about 1,700 colinies or about $5.00 USD per month in property taxes, that is reasonable," said another person in City of Guapiles, County of Pococi, Province of Limon.

Need a rental in Costa Rica? We've partnered with Explorastay, the largest aggregator of 1-12+ month stays. Compare listings and rental rates from 20+ accommodation sites in one search, including: Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia, UniPlaces, Spotahome, HousingAnywhere, Zumper and over a dozen more accommodation companies.

Search for Rentals

Need a rental in Costa Rica? We've partnered with Explorastay, the largest aggregator of 1-12+ month stays. Compare listings and rental rates from 20+ accommodation sites in one search, including: Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia, UniPlaces, Spotahome, HousingAnywhere, Zumper and over a dozen more accommodation companies. Search for Rentals in Costa Rica

What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Costa Rica?

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 8 Best Places to Live in Croatia and the Living in Mexico Guide. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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