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Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica
Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica
Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica

Real Estate in San Jose, Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 05, 2022

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

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How do I find a place to live in San Jose?

Live in San Jose? Answer this Question

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

"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," remarked another foreigner who made the move to San Jose.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in San Jose?

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"Housing can be very cheap, especially if you rent out a room from a Costa Rican family. While the family's home (bathroom especially) may not be of the same type that a middle-class American is used to, it is the best way to get to know your new home country's people. If you want, you could even rent out a room at a backpackers' type of hotel or hostel for cheap rates, too. I've stayed in simple beach-front hotels for US $9 a night," remarked another member in San Jose.

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What is the average cost of housing in San Jose?

Live in San Jose? Answer this Question

If you are thinking about moving to San Jose, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Cheaper, undoubtedly. Unless you want to live in the most expensive/foreign-overrun areas of the country or unless you insist on staying in the same level of housing that you stay in back in the states. Costa Rica is not the USA. It's Costa Rica. Learn to live more simply, you probably won't miss it in the long run," explained one expat living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Should I buy or rent a home in San Jose?

Live in San Jose? Answer this Question

If you have not spent a lot of time in San Jose, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"I rent because I do not want to be tied down to a piece of property. Also property is expensive. My rental agreement was easy to understand, only about 4 pages (2 of them inventory of furnishings). I negotiated the terms from 12 months to 6 and the rent amount. It was not difficult at all," said another person in San Jose.

Why do people move to San Jose?

Live in San Jose? Answer this Question

When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in San Jose, they said:

"Don't buy. For some reason that I suspect is emotional expats almost always want to buy property, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. It's much easier and cheaper to rent. There's also the widely reported statistic that some half of the expats leave the country within the first year of arriving--and stories abound of those who bought homes taking a huge loss when they sell. There are also a fair number of problems with property theft--your house is sold out from under you without your awareness. Give yourself a few years in the country to become acquainted with the customs and the neighborhoods before you plunk down money you may regret," said another person in San Jose.

Are foreigners allowed to own property in San Jose?

Live in San Jose? Answer this Question

When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in San Jose, they said:

"No, foreigners can own property with the same rights as locals. However, I personally wouldn't buy until I had legal residency. Many nonresidents do buy and don't have any problems, but I'd personally want the right to live in the country before I invested money in it. Related is that absentee-ownership is asking for problems. Unless it's a condo at the beach with a rental program, I wouldn't recommend buying without living here, and I wouldn't count on living here without legal residency," said another foreigner living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica

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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

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Contribute to Costa Rica Network Contribute
Help others in Costa Rica by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Costa Rica.

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