Throughout this period of Covid, our office has been fielding a lot of queries about Costa Rica real estate from people who are eagerly awaiting the borders to re-open. In spite of the protests against potential tax increases in Costa Rica that are in their third week, the real estate investors who contact us want to make a lifestyle change. Their hearts are set on Costa Rica and their reasons for it far outweigh any downsides.
Those who want so badly to get out of where they are and move to Costa Rica are doing it to better their lives — not to count small discrepancies. No slight tax change will dissuade them from their desire for a change of pace. And at 0.25%, most of us are used to paying much higher property taxes than we do in Costa Rica.
When the new Capital Gains tax in Costa Rica came into effect last year, we witnessed how quickly new buyers adjusted. It was virtually immediate. Our office didn’t lose a single buyer and no deal fell through because the tax was introduced.
What our clients today really care about is improving their quality of life. There may be a few things and people who they will dearly miss. But when it comes down to it, they love how peaceful they feel when living in Costa Rica. Here, they wake up unworried. They can watch the 24 hour news cycle but the Southern Zone feels very far away from the world’s woes. People tend not to stress in a paradise like this. You’ll meet French people escaping the yellow-vest protests, Englishmen sick of Brexit, Americans tired of bickering politicians, and Canadians sick of snow.
Why Buyers Want Costa Rica Real Estate Now
Costa Rica’s Southern Zone is a bountiful land of fruits, forests, and almost endless ocean views. Hummingbirds dive through the air by your pool, toucans can be seen in the tall trees by your ocean view terrace, and at this time of year in particular, humpback whales can be seen bursting out of the ocean from our wild, pristine beaches. Half of the region is protected in the form of national parks and nature reserves. The world is just discovering all of this natural beauty and investors are excited to make sure that they don’t miss out on this opportunity.
The Southern Zone’s Costa Ballena communities of Ojochal, Uvita, and Dominical are still the quintessential escape. It’s boutique, high-end and low key. Fresh croissants and fine dining, an international expat scene, beach strolls, birdwatching, and fantastic weather all year. This is the most enchanting corner of Costa Rica — a country that is globally renowned as a beacon of peace and stability and a regular chart topper of the World Happiness Report. This is basically the definition of the perfect place to leave everything you don’t like behind and start in a place that feels like home right away.
We currently have clients wanting to buy real estate in Costa Ballena so emphatically that they made offers on properties with the condition that they see the property before the deal closes. Even though most potential buyers in 2020 have yet made it to our office doors, there are some who have fallen in love with properties from a virtual tour and they absolutely don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to own their dream home in Costa Rica. They are basically coming as soon as the borders open for them to seal the deal and move to their new lives.
Costa Rica Tourism Opening in November
So far, about a dozen select states are allowed into Costa Rica. But as of November 1st, all US states will be allowed to enter with minimal sanitary restrictions, such as showing a negative Covid result. And as a result, flight schedules to Costa Rica are visibly picking up starting next month.
Flights to Costa Rica are expected to lower in price in the coming months. In the past month, four major U.S. airlines — Alaska, American, Delta and United — have eliminated many ticketing change fees, a widely-disliked group of charges that brought in more than $2.8 billion to U.S. carriers in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. But that isn’t translating to higher fares to make up the difference since other costs have fallen, such as fuel and other operating expenses, due to reduced flight schedules.
Air travel costs fell 16 per cent compared with August 2019, following a decline of 8.6 per cent in July as demand has fallen during the pandemic and airlines have offered discounts in response. Airlines are more likely to offer steep discounts and sales to promote air travel as it becomes more safe to travel to Costa Rica and elsewhere.
The Right Timing for Getting Out and Getting into Costa Rica
Federal interest rates in the U.S. were cut to nearly zero percent in March of this year and these rates are not expected to increase for a while. These low rates have helped generate strong demand for home sales, which is a strong convincing factor that now is a good time to sell at home and move to Costa Rica. Because of the uptick in mortgage lending rates, property buyers continue placing offers on homes and people are selling quickly for good profits. And the sale of most North American and European family homes will typically be ample for a retired couple to buy their dream property in Costa Rica and have money left over to live well for a long time.
Costa Ballena in the Southern Zone is the next big region on Costa Rica’s Path of Progress. Our communities are getting new roads, businesses are growing, gourmet restaurants are as delicious as ever, and there is new infrastructure like water pipelines and high speed internet.
Just north of Costa Ballena is Manuel Antonio – a hip beach town where real estate prices are much higher. Multi-million-dollar homes sit in the green hills around town overlooking the Pacific. The big real estate opportunities in Manuel Antonio passed more than 15 years ago and those who got in early made big returns.
While Manuel Antonio boomed, the Southern Zone was a sleeping giant. The paved coastal highway finished at Quepos so most tourists, developers, and second-home buyers passed on the slightly more remote Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal.
But because of development didn’t happen in those early years, the Southern Zone escaped over-development that is characteristic of the northern coastal regions. You won’t find high-rise condo blocks on the beach, gigantic shopping malls or cookie-cutter sub-divisions here. On the contrary, Costa Ballena is low-rise and boutique and permitting regulations should keep it that way.