Living in Costa Rica: Housing
I will have to admit that the way we chose to come to Costa Rica wasn’t because we did a lot of research of all the world’s foreign countries or because we particularly loved the country. We had done enough research of the country (via this great site: http://therealcostarica.com), and had looked a t a few other ones. We looked into going to Israel, called the Embassy, and though we believe one day we will be going there, now is not that time.
Costa Rica has a lot of good qualities as a country: the Green factor, no standing army, not a lot of violence, beautiful countryside, and gentle people; however, the fact remains that we chose this place because we had a place to stay when we got here with like-minded believers. We were able to stay with the family for a couple of months when we got here and that helped us immensely in getting here. We had met them online, they were Torah Keepers, and they gave us good info on how to get here. It was good to have someone be there to help you out when you get here, that you know relatively well – well-enough that you can trust them to help you out – especially if you fly, to get to places and find your way to a landing spot in San Jose or to the bus station, but a lot of people do it with no one to help them too.
There are sites online that you can use to find a place to rent before you arrive. If you know someone here, they usually know someone who knows someone, or perhaps they have had visitors and know of a good place to stay while you look for a place.
Once you arrive and start looking, you will realize that rent will depend on what type of place you are looking for. When we moved up to this area in Guanacaste, we lived in a rented, furnished large home, and it was a really good price at $400/month. But, our electric was $250/mo. I think they are renting it now for $600/mo. It was a nice house, like one in the States, 2br, 5br, kitchen, stove, dryer, refrigerator.
We had about an acre of land; it was all fenced-in, and had 5 different fruit trees on it. It was pretty nice.
Presently, we live in a little Tico home. It is unfurnished, no appliances, no additions, nothing. It’s ceramic tile, but I think most are. It is 3br, 1bath. It is about 1000sqft. total. One of the rooms has an open ceiling, but the rest are closed. There is not a back door yet, and we just got the back windows put in this past month, after living here for 6months. HalleluYAH!!! Matt is adding walls to the front and back porches to take off of the rent, and so there is a bit more room than there was. We pay approx. $160/mo, and the electric is about $100/mo.
The yard is very small, and Matt put up a small fence to keep in the goat, the chickens and dog. The front is still a bit muddy, oh, I guess the back is too, because they weren’t exactly finished with it, and the grass needs to grow yet.
This area is more expensive than in the San Jose area, but it is a lot nicer and greener and slower-paced. So, area will be a big decider as for prices also.
Is rent reasonable, and land to plant?
Rent is very reasonable, depending on what you are looking for. There are less expensive places/areas to rent and buy. Rent and land nearer to San Jose is more expensive, and gets less expensive as you get away from it. We are near Arenal, closer to Nicaragua, about 3H from SJ, so land is pretty reasonable to buy. Keep in mind that a lot of it is overpriced and you can make an offer on most properties to the owner.
Unfortunately, though, from our experiences and those we have heard from other Americans, you have to really be cautious with your realtor. Our realtor in the States said she got out of the business because her colleagues would lie, cheat, and steal to sell property, and that is also how it has been here for several we know of.
You really have to be extra cautious here with everything and know what you are saying, what you are hearing, what they are saying, and what they mean. A lot of the problems encountered in Costa Rica have been from those who are misinformed, lied to, or too trusting, and the court system here is not the same as in the States.
You will have to have a corporation to purchase land in Costa Rica. The costs of establishing a corporation is around $300. A corporation also affords you having other such things as car registration and other things you might find necessary here.
As for land, it will depend on the area you look at. Land in this area of Guanacaste, in northern Costa Rica is quite expensive, while we have friends who have purchased land in the Southern part, in Limon, where the land is much cheaper. Now, the landscape is much different also, and they are far from a major town. If you know someone here, it is a very good thing to ask and read up if they have info published. You can see info about our friends’ experiences and their land here, at YHVH Leads.
You will find a lot of good info about Housing/Renting, and Buying Property in Costa Rica here:
Costa Rica Buying and Owning Property. Realtors Agents
Buying Beachfront Property Costa Rica | Current Law, Risk, Regulations
Rent and renting apartments, condos or property in Costa Rica
Building a Home in Costa Rica
This page will be updated as more information becomes available. Please note that this is not legal advice and only represents the experiences of the author and other information that hat been gathered.