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Housing in Costa Rica
 
 
 

The housing options available range from luxurious apartments and condominiums, to mountain cottages. Several areas in Costa Rica host large communities of foreign nationals, particularly Canadians and Americans. Most of Costa Rica’s population lives in the Central Valley. Large concentrations of foreigners are found in areas in and around Esczú, Rohrmoser, Guanacaste and Jacó.

You do not have to be a resident of Costa Rica to buy and own property there. In fact, foreigners have the same rights as Costa Ricans in buying property. The only exception the so-called Terrestrial Maritime Zone. The Maritime Zone law means that all beaches are public property, that is, the first 50 meters (164 ft.) above the mean high tide line is public. With some exceptions, there are no private beaches in Costa Rica. The exceptions refer to landholdings in port areas and old land grants and agreements dating from before 1973. The Maritime Zone legislation further states that the first 150 meters (492 ft.) after the first 50 meters (164 ft.) is called the Maritime Zone. As a foreigner you are required to have a minimum of five years of residency in Costa Rica in order to buy property of which more than 49% is located in the Maritime Zone.

Accommodation prices in Costa Rica are determined by the size and location. This holds for both renting and buying. Accommodation is measured in square meters. The main factor for the price is the infrastructure of the area you plan to live. More remote areas with less access to healthcare, telecommunication, shopping, nightlife, beach, etc. are lower in price than housing located on the beach, in or very near the city or facilities. If you prefer moderate temperatures, consider living at some altitude. The coastal areas and lowlands have higher temperatures.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are restrictions to the land use in Costa Rica. In order to find out what restrictions apply to the land you are interested in you should contact the various authorities. You can either do this yourself or make use of professionals such as Real Estate Brokers and Engineers.

There is a wide range of options when looking for housing. As always in life, the more you are willing to pay (i.e. for an agent), the easier your search will be. For an efficient search, you should be familiar with the basic realty terms in Costa Rica. However, the presence of many foreign nationals also mean that many realtors and other services are offered in English next to Spanish.

The most common places to search for realty are:

• Realtors
• Classifieds
• Announcements
• Word of mouth

Renting a Property

The rental market in Costa Rica is regulated and tenants are well protected. Costa Rican authorities do make a difference between vacation rentals and normal rentals. Looking for a place in Costa Rica will take some time. Although there are abundant real estate agencies and foreign nationals present in Costa Rica, give yourself plenty of time to visit and investigate places, it is much more likely that you get what you are looking for this way.

If you are looking for a place to buy or coming down to Costa Rica to study or work temporarily, you are likely to rent a place first. Rental contracts in Costa Rica are generally for the duration of three years. During this period the landlord is not allowed to raise the rent if charged in US Dollars. If the rent is charged in Colones, a 15% increase in rent is possible. In practice, 6 month rentals are offered as well. Tenants are supposed to give three months notice to terminate the rental and leave the property in the same state it was when the lease started. If you decide to leave before the rental period is over you will lose your security deposit. A landlord can ask any amount of security deposit he/she thinks is necessary. Make sure you agree clearly on what security deposit will be made.


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