If you spend any time reading expat message boards about buying property in Costa Rica, you will see a lot of commentary about how important it is to rent first and try it out. This may have been advisable since the global economic recession in 2009. But for the few years prior to that, development in Costa Rica was booming. A huge number of houses in Ojochal were built between 2004 and 2008. After that, investment and development virtually came to a halt for a number of years. This has changed in a big way over the last two years.
Commercial development in the Costa Ballena
New, modern construction is happening everywhere in our Costa Ballena region. Beautiful ocean view homes in scenic mountainside locations are being built at record pace, with numerous local construction companies and architectural firms cropping up to fill those job orders. These companies and the materials that they use did not exist 10 years ago, showing the swift pace that this region is modernizing.
Just in the last year, a number of new stores and restaurants have opened. Ojochal has the newly-built Plaza Tangara (replacing one that burned down in an accidental fire 2 years ago) with a doctor’s office, pharmacy, salon and spa, and the iconic Citrus Restaurant, one of many culinary delights in the international community of Ojochal. The highway side Jucaloa supermarket is also being upgraded to a new larger location behind its current one. And the Cinco Ventanas plaza is about to get a revival, including the reopening of the gas station, which is incredibly exciting for the local community.
The Costa Ballena’s commercial hub, Uvita, is currently witnessing a substantial upgrade to its BM supermarket. This nationwide chain supermarket already stocks many imported items and will likely see expansion of that list. And the long-standing Pacific Pool business is moving to a new standalone location with a massive showroom, showing that business must be going well.
One of the biggest pieces of recent local news is that Walmart is coming to the second biggest city in Costa Rica: San Isidro de El General, also known as Perez Zeledon. The Costa Ballena is about a 40 minutes drive from Perez and there is much excitement about this store opening. The opening of this store will likely pave the way for more big box stores to open in this already large city. Perez Zeledon is also the likely site for a future international airport, which will open our beloved South Pacific communities even more to the rest of the world.
Furnishing a new home in our region
When it comes to furnishing a new home, buyers used to either import furniture (often at great cost and with little success of the furniture surviving this climate) or traveling to San José. The capital of Costa Rica has long had most of the quality items that expats expect, but it also used to be the only place in Costa Rica where you could find many items. This 3 hour drive from the Costa Ballena used to take 4-5 hours only 10 years ago, which was a lot of time to spend driving for just shopping. It also used to be difficult to find a moving company that would bring items from the city to our region. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
Bodegon de Asia is one new furniture store near Jacó (less than a 2 hour drive away) and it is huge. They recently expanded to 10x their original size and deliver to our area. Riviera Home Center is another notable furniture store in Jacó. It has a small showroom but a huge warehouse that they will take you to and many catalogs to shop through. Basically, you can find any shape, size, material, quality and color you want. The famous Sarchi furniture manufacturers have also opened a location in Jaco so you don’t have to drive to Sarchi to bring their iconic pieces into your home.
And when it comes to shopping in San José, the company Varma will deliver everything you need to our region. Just give them your receipts and they’ll go to any number of stores to pick up the items you purchased and deliver them to your door.
Increases in investment
New roads are being planned for many local communities in the Costa Ballena. These new roads will cut the driving distance to the highway from 20 minutes to 5 minutes in some instances and making for smoother, safer drives. Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal have all had significant portions of their main roads paved in the last 2 years, welcoming more traffic to each of these communities.
All of the above indicators point to a surge in new construction and refurbishing old construction. This means that investment in Costa Rica is growing and this is reflective of our Costa Ballena region. For these and many other reasons, we suggest to potential buyers that maybe they don’t rent for a year. Instead, we recommend that potential buyers travel around the different regions of Costa Rica and to pick the community that inspires them the most. Our buyers have often traveled most regions of Costa Rica before visiting here and immediately falling in love. This is a dramatically beautiful region where the mountains meet the sea, with pristine coastlines and wild, unpopulated beaches that are absolutely breathtaking.
Renting long term is not ideal in a rising price market and this is where we are finding ourselves today with many prospects for continued growth. But when it comes to those who use their Costa Rica property for income while they are away, local property managers are reporting that there are often more short-term renters than there are rentals, especially during the high season between December and April. Luxury vacation rentals in Costa Ballena with spectacular ocean views and amenities are rented at least 50% of the year, according to Christine Schiferl from Jaguar Property Management.
Starting around June, we receive a boost in tourism in Costa Rica, with a number of North American and European families using their summer holidays to visit. European businesses often require their employees to take holidays in the summer and many of these visitors will use this time to explore real estate and the possibility of enjoying a Costa Rica property over a longer period of time. With the growing number of airlines and ports opening regular direct flights to and from Costa Rica, the possibility of owning a property in Costa Rica has expanded to more parts of the world.
Now is a great time to jump in and build a new home or buy an existing home while prices are still climbing. It is difficult to predict what the world economies will do in the near future, but for now, in Costa Rica, the trends in real estate are pointing towards growth.
Our Osa Tropical properties agents have recently had a number of closings mainly on homes within the $350,000 – $450,000 range. This average range has already grown around $50,000 from this same period last year. We have also had a record number of luxury home closings in our office and in the region in general. Coupled with the huge number of brand new modern homes coming onto the market, we are excited to see much more foreign money coming into the country.
Thanks to development in our region, the growing number of expats coming to our region are bringing jobs and growth, which is plainly evident in the housing and commercial improvements being made in our local communities and the upgrades in the cars that local Costa Ricans drive. Thanks to more foreign money coming in, many locals are directly benefitting and hoping for additional growth.
Excitingly, despite all of this development, Costa Rica has doubled its forest cover in the last 35 years. Thanks to a change in government regulations, Costa Rica’s priorities shifted from logging to promoting eco-tourism in 1983. These initiatives have led to Costa Rica having 52% forest cover and a wide variety of abundant natural wonders that continue to draw the world to marvel at the beauty and purity of this land.
This feeling of inspiration lingers in more than a few people and we are witnessing an increasing pull for many to embrace the pura vida way of life more fully by investing in real estate in Costa Rica. When you are ready, we welcome you to contact us with any questions about real estate or life in general in Costa Rica.