More than 700 miles of beach on Pacific and Caribbean coasts, warm water, tropical climate, lush rainforest and cloud forest, jungle wildlife, stable country, and friendly people – Costa Rica entices millions to visit every year.
If you live anywhere in the Americas, and most likely even in Europe, then you have heard the buzz about this Central American paradise. Maybe you’ve already visited and promised yourself you’d return. Maybe you’re still looking at websites and brochures, plotting your escape to a tranquil tropical beach. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to have your own little slice of paradise and be able to come back again and again?
Tens of thousands of people from all over the world have made the jump to live in Costa Rica, whether permanently or part-time. The country has become a bit of a “melting pot” of colorful cultures over recent decades.
“Costa Rica is a great place to buy real estate at the moment because property values are going to maintain and steadily increase; the government is stable; the climate is great; there is an attraction here with the biodiversity for people from all over the world; and there are a lot of multinational investments,” commented Dennis Easters, co-owner and broker with Pure Life Development, full-service real estate agency specializing in sales and rentals in Costa Rica. Easters moved to Costa Rica from Florida nearly a decade ago for an international lifestyle, and wholeheartedly encourages others to do the same if that dream calls to them.
Easters reports that Costa Rica has become one of the hottest destinations for retirees from the United States and Canada over the past 10 years. Hugely popular websites such as WeLoveCostaRica.com, LiveInCostaRica.com and InternationalLiving.com attest to that. Many permanent foreign residents move to the capital city area of San Jose and the greater Central Valley, where infrastructure is very developed, high quality medical care and other services are close by, and elevation keeps the climate cooler. Coastal areas tend to be more popular with younger immigrants or those who actively seek the beach lifestyle, or as a vacation home investment.
“Costa Rica is a great investment for vacation rentals, because Costa Rica is a major tourist destination,” said Easters. “People realize they can rent a nice house all to themselves, with their own kitchen and private pool, for the same price as staying in a hotel. If you buy a house for a vacation rental, you can plan on having an 80% occupancy rate during high season from December to April.”
Jacó, Central Pacific Coast, Costa Rica
The popular beach town, with its consistent surf, fun beach-party atmosphere, well-developed infrastructure and new luxury condos, is one of the top beach destinations for foreigners moving to Costa Rica. The nearby world-class golf course, marina and resort community at Los Sueños Resort & Marina adds a posh level of luxury.
“Jacó is a great investment because it is so close to San Jose, only an hour on the Caldera Highway. Services and the community are well integrated between foreigners and Costa Ricans. It has a great variety of restaurants, new condo developments, and good social life,” commented Easters.
Famous with surfers from all over the globe, one of Jacó’s more attractive elements for new residents are its newly-built beachfront high-rise condominium developments. Most beachfront land in Costa Rica is concession property, whereas in Jacó the properties are fully titled, which is very attractive to buyers, explains David Karr, Daystar Properties sales representative in Jacó. The area is perfect for surfing and outdoors’ lifestyles, Karr said.
“Jacó and the Central Pacific remain one of the most desired areas for full-time living because of its central location and its amenities and services,” notes Karr. “With our warm temperatures and countless outdoor activities, the Jacó area is perfect for those looking for an active lifestyle. Here in Jacó you can walk downstairs, grab your surfboard, and go right into the water.”
Both Karr and Easters affirm that potential real estate buyers enjoy great opportunities now in Jacó. “Over the last 18 months, we are seeing buyers get good deals where people, due to economic conditions, needed to sell. There are definitely still opportunities, but if you’re thinking to buy, now is the time,” said Karr. Average prices for a two-bedroom, two-bath, fully furnished, beachfront condo is in the mid to high $200,000 range, according to Karr.
Nosara, on Costa Rica’s Pacific Guanacaste coast, is a hidden paradise with no highways or even paved roads to bring in the masses. The cosmopolitan community there is known for its active and healthy lifestyles, natural diets, and its dedication to a slower, low stress, friends and family quality of life. Driving slowly on the dusty (or muddy) road into the area, you quickly notice that the community is composed of little hamlets of homes, small businesses and the occasional restaurant or hotel all hidden away in the jungle before the beach. More than half of the area is set aside for wildlife and preservation, including the Ostional Wildlife Refuge to protect breeding Olive Ridley and Leatherback sea turtles. The result is an abundance of monkeys and other wildlife.
Nosara’s pristine beaches – Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada, Playa Ostional and Playa Nosara – are perfect for those who want to get away from it all. Nosara is a praised surfing destination and home to a world-renowned yoga school. “Nosara has a big international community with residents from all over the world. It is off the beaten path, but it is unique in its isolation,” commented Easters. “There is the famous Nosara Yoga Institute, great surfing beaches and a relaxed atmosphere.”
Buying possibilities in the Nosara area include beach properties, coastal homes, hillside ocean-view homes and properties, and farm sales. Prices range from $65,000 for a hilltop lot to $1.89 million for a “spectacular ocean view villa,” according to Reef Realty, one of the main realtors in Nosara. You can easily find two-bedroom homes for under $200,000.
Santa Teresa, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
On the tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa Beach exudes an enchanting energy that will entrance you from the second you arrive. Renowned for being one of the top 10 beaches in the world, Santa Teresa’s natural beauty flaunts jungle that hugs the coastline, pouring down from coastal mountains to light sand beaches and crystal clear aquamarine sea.
You have to take a ferry from the mainland across the Nicoya Gulf to get to this area of the Nicoya Peninsula (or drive a really, really long way down from Guanacaste). “People like that because it keeps away the big crowds,” explains Bas Pecher, sales representative with Century 21 Beach Area Properties in nearby Playa Tambor. “A lot of people come to this area for its nature.” Close to Santa Teresa are the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve and the Curú Wildlife Reserve.
The southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula lies in a nice middle zone between Costa Rica’s rainy southern Pacific Coast and the dry northern Guanacaste Coast. Epic surf and picture-perfect sunsets are its hallmark. “A lot of people have bought in this area for the surfing – the surfing is awesome. Also the laid-back feeling in this area is nice. It’s still not developed,” said Pecher. “And our sunsets are amazing!”
Pecher said that real estate sales in the area are picking up. “We have really high-end homes in the $600,000 up to $2.75 million range, down to quaint surfer’s cottages starting at $180,000 up to $260,000 with ocean views,” he said. “You can buy land and then build, or you can buy existing homes and vacation cottages. There are also gated residential communities.”
Once a sleepy fishing village, Santa Teresa is a fast-emerging tourism destination with a surprisingly diverse international community of native Costa Ricans, Israelis, Italians, North Americans, and everyone in between. “It’s a great place to buy an investment property for vacation rentals,” notes Pecher. “We have clients who come back every year to rent vacation homes.”
Check out Costa Rica on a Surfing Vacation
A great way to come check out Costa Rica’s real estate possibilities is on one of Del Mar Surf Camp’s Costa Rica surf vacation packages or yoga-surf retreats. Based on Hermosa Beach on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, just south of the bustling beach town of Jacó, Del Mar Surf Camp specializes in surf vacations, yoga-surf retreats, and day surf lessons for adults, women only and families. They offer locations on Nosara Beach, Santa Teresa Beach and Hermosa/Jaco beaches, for beginners, intermediate or advanced surfers.
Del Mar Surf Camp offers new Summer Specials packages, with great discounts, to celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2013. Domestic flights and transfers to all of Del Mar’s locations are included in all surf vacation packages.
By Shannon Farley