Pros and cons of buying a hillside home in Costa Rica
A hillside home is a pretty common sight in Costa Rica. That’s because we have lots and lots of hillsides. Costa Rica has a variety of soaring and rolling mountains, as well as dormant and active volcanoes.
Picking the right mountain to live on is not so easy. That should be based on your requirements of amenities in the area, as well as the hillside that offers the views you love best. In Costa Rica, a relatively small country offers an amazing variety of homes built on a hillside.
Frequently, foreigners moving to Costa Rica ask for the showing of a hillside home. But, they want to be far away from the volcanoes! I wish things were so easy, in a country that has 5 active and 4 inactive volcanoes. More about volcanoes and earthquakes at the end of this blog.
The paradise that we call home, has 5 large mountain ranges, so you’ll find a hillside home everywhere you turn. Some of the mountain ranges in Costa Rica, (called cordilleras) go as high as 3,432 meters (over 11,000 feet).
Let’s walk you through the pros and the cons of buying a hillside home, so you can be attracted or just walk away from the idea
A hillside home has to have a view. Why else live on a hillside? Your local agent will be able to tell you on which ridge you have to be for a
- Sunset view,
- City view,
- Lake view,
- Valley view
- Or a mountain view.
You should use the topography of the property to your advantage easily. You’ll find some incredible home designs that take advantage of the slopes of the property.
On a hillside property, it’s pretty easy to create privacy from your neighbors. In Costa Rica, due to the volcanic soil, everything grows incredibly fast. Therefore, using bushes and trees make it pretty easy to be private. Nonetheless, be aware that you shouldn’t cover your neighbors’ and your own views.
This depends a little of the location. If you buy a hillside home close to San Jose, you’ll have a city environment. But once you go a little west of San Jose, such as Santa Ana, Atenas, or Grecia, you’ll find that most hillside homes offer a rural environment. All hillsides in the beach areas have a rural environment.
If you want a pool, it’s pretty easy to build an infinity pool next to your hillside home. Almost the whole Costa Rican coastline has hills just a short drive from the beach. So there, it is easy to have an ocean view from the pool.
Hillsides in Costa Rica are usually pretty steep. Therefore, the garden of the hillside home you like best probably doesn’t have many flat and useable areas. Hillside homes can be a problem if you have small children or grandchildren. If you like gardening, try to use bushes and trees that don’t grow too tall. If you don’t, you won’t have a view in a few years.
Some buyers will perceive a hillside home as a risky investment. Spectacular views and the creation of outdoor space such as a deck or a balcony can turn potential buyers around.
In case you didn’t know, when it rains in Costa Rica, it pours. Rainwater always runs where you don’t want it to go. Especially on hillsides. Therefore, it’s important to check water run-offs before you purchase. You can stop any future landslides on your hillside property by planting anything that anchors the soil.
King of the hill
Try to be as high as you can on the hill. You can’t control what’s above you. Look for possible landslides in the area before you buy.
Make sure the steep driveway is drivable, even if you have a 4-wheel drive. Concrete is better than asphalt to build a steep driveway. Also, check the water runoffs, so the pavement won’t damage.
Some hillside homes tend to be a little dark. Before you purchase, see if you can clear up the trees around the house. It’s also important to make sure the house is built in a north-south orientation, that will give you natural light and you’ll save a lot on energy.
I don’t want to scare anyone away with this blog. For those who are afraid of living on a hillside that’s close to a volcano: crossing the street is also dangerous. Oh, and we have lots of earthquakes. In the 365 days, there were 71 earthquakes near Costa Rica. During that same time, there were 323 earthquakes in San Francisco, to put things in perspective. If this will make you more comfortable: since 1950, just over 190 people have died as a direct consequence of earthquakes in Costa Rica.
Thinking about purchasing a hillside home in Costa Rica? Then consider all the pros and cons first. Then have it thoroughly inspected by a home inspector so you’ll be aware of any current and potential problems. Contact us for professional assistance in your real estate purchase.
Many thanks to our South Pacific affiliate, Daveed Hollander, who allowed me to use some of their awesome drone images.
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