Searching for properties in Costa Rica from the comfort of your current home is a common task. It is not quite like shopping on Amazon but it can surely be done with almost as much ease. Except that it is not a delivery that is expected at your current home, but your arrival at your newest palm-lined address.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put a stopper on a lot of people’s plans that had been simmering away for months if not years. Buying property in Costa Rica is typically not something done on a whim and many of the hundreds of buyers we’ve worked with over the years have taken plenty of time to visit on multiple times and stay in different areas. Their goal was to really get to know if, when, and where they would like to make their tropical stay permanent. Working with the right real estate team is the trick to taking the next step with plenty of confidence and support in your journey. With a bit of patience, persistence and luck, it is possible to find the perfect tropical home that meets your budget and lifestyle needs. It’s our job to show you how when you are ready.
Our Costa Ballena real estate market is palpably shifting in 2020. Until this year, thousands of people were purchasing properties in Costa Rica from all over the world each year. US expats living at least part time in Costa Rica number around 70,000 with likely another half that from Europe and Canada. But global shut downs have stopped many in their tracks who were basically already en route to starting their new lives. Many more are piling up at the door, ready to begin their search on foot as soon as they are allowed in. And those who are the most serious and ready to make a commitment before the floodgates reopen are contacting us about buying now, even before they can get back into the country. Whether you’re just beginning your venture into the unknown or you know that Costa Rica is meant to be your next home, here are six tips for making your long distance property hunt in Costa Rica a successful experience.
1. Research what it’s like to live in Costa Rica
To begin searching for properties in Costa Rica, it’s a good idea to determine what type of lifestyle you think you might want to lead in your tropical experience. This tiny Central American nation offers many diverse styles of living for all ages and expectations. Even within the same region like in our coastal mountain landscape called Costa Ballena, a difference of 10 minutes’ drive in any direction will bring you to a different type of community in a different ecosystem. Wealthy retired expats, young families, international and local mixed neighborhoods, and the everyday surf crowd are friendly to one another but also like to live in proximity to their closest lifestyle companions and the habitats most conducive to the activities they like to practice regularly.
To get to know more about the different regions in Costa Rica and what their expat communities are like, read some guide books or blogs about Costa Rica. Look at maps that highlight the geography of each region and why people choose to live in them. Do you want rivers? Fresh mountain breezes? Life as close to the beach as possible? It’s all available in this area in different combinations. It’s up to you to figure out how you want to live and we can show you which places will bring you those qualities.
Keep up with local news and views by joining online community pages and blogs. Most community pages will accept prospective buyers who want to know more about the area before deciding to buy. Search through topics that have been covered before or post your unique questions and receive a community of answers. Don’t forget to reach out to your relatives and friends who have already moved to Costa Rica, or your great realtor, to ask your more personal questions about living in the area.
2. Figure out your wants and needs
Having a strong understanding of your wants versus your needs is essential when buying assets anywhere in the world. If you are considering buying property in Costa Rica, ask yourself the following helpful questions and consider what your must-haves are in comparison to your really-wants (things that are more negotiable):
- Do I want to live in a rural or urban environment?
- What style of house/property do I want?
- What is my ideal budget?
- Do I want to live in close proximity to certain amenities?
- Do I want an ocean, mountain or jungle view property?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do I need?
- Do I want more living space indoors or outdoors?
- Is it important that I live near an airport? Hospital?
- Do I want an already furnished home?
- Do I want to live in a gated community?
There are many more questions to consider and the more you can go over, the better. The point is to get a head start thinking about all of the facets of everyday life so that you can narrow down your search to what you really need while we do our best to fulfill your wants. It is our expertise to be able to ask you the questions that we know will come up over time about life in the Costa Ballena as we’ve done for many others.
3. Decide on a (realistic) budget and/or how you will earn an income
There are many expat destinations in Costa Rica and each community has its own average prices. Even within our Costa Ballena region, we have different price points on properties that depend on location and amenities. Cost of living must be built into your budget and the considerations here are quite different. Having a good realtor on hand is important because they will share information with you about average local monthly expenses. Car maintenance costs, home owner’s associations costs, taxes, food, going out, childcare, rental rates, etc., are all important considerations.
Many investors have been contacting our office over the years about buying investment properties in Costa Rica. Most of these buyers have been coming here for years and seeing the growth in tourism in the region. They may not be ready to move to Costa Rica full time but they like to be here at least a couple of months out of the year and then make their property work for them in the meantime. This has been a relatively easy ask in recent years with vacation home rentals being the primary form of accommodations available in the region. And there are many new investors betting that as soon as the borders reopen, those great vacation homes and properties with small cabins for hire will hold great value in their portfolios.
4. Plan at least one visit to your favorite locations for hunting for properties in Costa Rica
We know that you may be feeling like you are ready to make a change right now but researching a place online can only be so revealing. We strongly recommend that you visit the Costa Ballena before considering to buy here. It’s easy to fall in love with an idea on paper but it’s a whole other thing to tackle the reality of the idea affecting everyday life. As much as we love it here, it may not be as ideal for someone else. Everyone has their own combination of preferences for their desired climate, views, amenities, and absolute no-nos.
Plan a trip for when your current country’s borders re-open so that you can experience the various ways of life available in each location. Your goal should be to get a feel for your comfort in each of them. Spending time in your top community choices will allow you to familiarize yourself with the area so that you make a more informed home buying decision. The best way to do this is to rent a home and stay in each of your locations of interest. We also suggest dining out at local restaurants, exploring the transportation options and shopping at nearby stores and markets. Every area in Costa Ballena has its own individual feel and we believe that there are many wonderful living experiences on offer for a wide range of people.
5. Use a top-notch realtor in Costa Rica
When you know exactly where you want to spend your time from now on, having an expert agent on your Costa Ballena property hunting team is essential. You will want someone local as your guide, who will show you the ins and outs of each community in their region of service. It helps to learn about more than just properties for sale in your search process. With the help of a seasoned and trustworthy agent by your side, you will be armed with the knowledge that will help you avoid making a costly mistake that may not have been easily predictable.
Choose an agent with excellent contacts and client reviews, who is good at proactively communicating with clients and easy to reach. A great buyer’s agent should be ready to go see a new listing in-person as soon as it comes on the market or to send you a personalized virtual tour as you peruse properties from a distance. Your agent should be able to judge—based on their knowledge of the area, experience in the property, and understanding of your needs—if a property you are interested in is worth your time to consider or if you should move on it quickly. Our Costa Ballena region can be a fast-paced market for the best positioned listings. You want an agent who is on the ball and ready to show you the best listings as soon as they go on market.
6. Overcome remote home buyer jitters
You may be nervous about making an offer from overseas. Moving long distance is a fresh start in a new country with a new culture, new people, and new experiences. No matter how many properties you’ve bought and sold before, we know that the process is different (and a little scary) when it’s in a new country. Ask us any and all of the questions that you have—we are here to answer them all. We understand your nerves and our team of agents are friendly, helpful and open to conversing with you about our own lives in Costa Rica. We have coached hundreds of buyers and sellers through the processes of Costa Rica real estate and we’ll be thrilled to do it again with you.
Get in touch with us today… It’s never too early to start your search for that special property in Costa Rica!
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