Now is the time to reclaim your passions. Stop asking yourself if this is the best it’s ever going to get. For many readers, your home country’s politics or economy may be in dire straits and it’s easy to forget that although the struggle is real, there are better places to negotiate these struggles, eventually weaning out the ones that over time prove unnecessary. One of these charmed places is found in Costa Rica, in particular the South Pacific zone of Costa Rica known as the Southern Zone.
The Southern Zone commonly includes three towns: Dominical, a quaint surf town with some of the best, most consistent surfing in Costa Rica; Uvita, the commercial and social hub of the region; and Ojochal, the multicultural expat village aptly dubbed the culinary capital of Costa Rica. This region boasts a special landscape of pristine coastal wilderness, with breathtaking beauty that is off the beaten path yet still contains all of the modern conveniences expected from internationally acclaimed destinations. The climate is tropical year round and the lush landscape affords natural fresh breezes and invigorating rains from April to November.
To those considering the possibilities that the world has on offer, I want to assure you that living your dreams will only serve to improve your quality of life by bringing life satisfaction. Costa Rica has an added bonus of close proximity to the USA and Canada, meaning that the move will not feel so distant. And although the cost of living may be slightly higher than some surrounding nations, the quality of life is higher as well.
Costa Ricans, who refer to themselves as Ticos and welcome you to do so as well, are a friendly, family-oriented culture of people who want to get to know you and get only warm feelings when they hear people speaking well of their country. Ticos want good relations with visitors and expats and as a highly literate culture, they tend to be trustworthy in business relations. The ‘Pura Vida’ philosophy has become well-recognized around the world and represents a general satisfaction and enjoyment of a slow savoring of life. It is a celebration of good fortune while also serving as a daily greeting between friends.
Many people around the world are currently at work dreaming of being somewhere else. They wake up each day to the same routine, wondering if there is a way to escape. There are numerous people living in the Southern Zone that will attest that there is! This is a place where you can take good care of your family and provide for them while still having an amazing and impactful daily life full of fun, luxury and adventure.
For those with less of a nest egg, the luxuries of the Southern Zone are not such that necessitate financial riches. Every day you will wake up to the sound of birds of paradise, perhaps even monkeys. You can eat fresh fruit from your garden daily, cultivated in some of the most fertile lands in the world where nearly anything will grow. Hiking, swimming and fishing can be a part of your daily “routine,” finished off with a sunset view every evening.
How can you do this? Below are a few ways that Costa Rica is growing and making room for investor migrants to join the ranks of expats living the ‘Pura Vida.’
Reaping the part-time rental benefits
New this year, Costa Rica reached the top ten trending searches in the UK leading property search portal RightMove, landing at number 6 and the only country in the Americas to attain trending status. Almost as if on cue, British Airways has begun a twice-weekly direct service from Gatwick Airport in London to Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose. For those not ready to make the full-time move, transporting to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone part-time is one way to live your life better than watching it on television. No need to settle for a vacation – live your life like a vacation and return “home” for a holiday.
Rentals are on the rise in the Southern Zone. A 2016 Realtors® survey indicates that interest in purchasing property in another country has more than doubled worldwide in the last year, up from 6% last year to 14%. Costa Rica is the second most looked at destination for investment next to Mexico, with a 4% increase in interest in Costa Rica alone. A large majority of 87% of those surveyed on foreign property investment are looking for a vacation home or a residential rental, indicating that these are people still interested in pursuing business interests rather than retiring.
Vacation rentals are trending in Costa Rica at present, with the Southern Zone seeing an increase in recent years of travelers looking to escape the impersonal hotel experience to enjoy a home-like vibe with the privacy and amenities of home while experiencing life as a “local.” For those who own a vacation rental, this means that they don’t have to completely leave friends and family behind and can subsidize or fully pay for their Costa Rican expenses when away, while also keeping their incomes back home. House swapping is another added bonus, allowing for home owners to travel to other international luxury destinations without the accommodation costs.
Wellness is abundant
The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) recently promoted Costa Rica as a wellness destination in Mexico’s Termatalia Conference to representatives from 20 countries and a host of international consumers at its 16th annual gathering. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism has grown by 12.7% since 2013 when it was $494 billion annual revenue and has become a big motivator in the planning of vacations and recreation. As one of many examples in the region, the town of Uvita hosts Envision Festival annually, one of the biggest sustainable meditation and wellness eco-music-festivals in the world.
Many entrepreneurs who migrate to this region of Costa Rica pursue long-standing passions that involve helping others improve mental and physical health while also aiding themselves in the process. Yoga, reflexology, meditation, spiritual guidance and so much more are prevalent additions provided by expats and locals to the Southern Zone communities.
The environment in the Southern Zone is wonderfully ideal for wellness pursuits. The serenity found in the Southern Zone is conducive to stress release and combating fatigue for the reason that this region offers a differentiated product: open air living environment, natural, locally produced foods, abundant sports and recreation for free or cheap, and all accompanied by the sounds, sights and scents of nature.
Twenty-five percent of Costa Rica’s land is dedicated by the government as protected, with $10 million being allotted in the national budget in 2017 for national parks. This means the protection of 800 species of ferns, thousands of types of naturally occurring flowers, 2000 tree species and over 200 species of mammals. Locals, expats and visitors alike care for the ecosystem, indicated in events like beloved three-toed sloth Monster’s passing last month becoming international news. Monster was made famous in BBC and PBS documentaries and died of natural causes while living a free and happy life in the rainforest.
Hospitality for all
There is a range of industries in global production in Costa Rica with foreign business investment on the rise in 2016. Many multinational corporations have their regional head offices in Costa Rica, including INTEL microchips, Microsoft, SC Johnson and FedEx. In fact, Costa Rica welcomes any new business from foreign investment, knowing that this will bring foreign capital and create jobs. This welcoming economic environment means that foreign investors are not only flocking to buy a piece of land but also to get a piece of the growing pie that is the Costa Rican economy.
Tourism has historically accounted for a large percentage of the GDP, slightly falling in recent years but only on the account of the expansion of foreign investment by international corporations in the skilled sectors represented in part by the aforementioned. Nevertheless, tourism is one of the most viable ways of investing into Costa Rica with the expectation of a livable return.
The Monthly Index of Economic Activity shows Costa Rica as the highest economic growth area in Central America, expected to be up by 4.2% by the end of 2016. The Southern Zone is attractive to new investment with lower prices than other more developed regions of the country, while also providing economic stability with continued growth being projected for the coming years.
With increased demand from elite international travelers seeking luxury, experience-driven vacations, the Southern Zone ticks all of the boxes for adventurous travelers looking to have a more personalized encounter with nature’s wonders, rather than a cookie-cutter catered affair. Many businesses thrive in this region, even during the off-season, which is affectionately known as the green-season, also known as the preferred time of year to visit for those in know. The Costa Rican government is consistently increasing spending on advertising this nation’s many wonders to the world, and with the exposure of Costa Rica continually topping annual happiness index surveys and the rise of foreign investment in the Southern Zone, most notably with the 2016 opening of a world-class luxury marina in Golfito and a spectacular nine-hole golf course in San Buenas, Costa Rica’s Southern Zone is about to hit its mark as the go-to travel destination for the adventurous eco-tourist.
Expat communities have been in Costa Rica for decades and the more adventurous ones have been in the Southern Zone for just as long. Osa Tropical Properties is one of the longest-standing real estate agencies in the region, having helped thousands of clients relocate since 2005 and is here to help you bring your desk dreams to life. Ask others who came before you – ask the team at Osa Tropical Properties. Visit Costa Rica’s Southern Zone to see what’s on offer. No one can live your life for you – it’s time to take the leap.