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Real Estate FAQ | Is the neighborhood safe?

Real Estate FAQ | Is the neighborhood safe?A real estate FAQ or frequently asked question in Costa Rica real estate is: is the neighborhood safe?

Read any Costa Rican newspaper on any day and you’ll find stories about murder, rape, drugs, and robberies. It’s amazing that in my almost 40 years of living in Costa Rica, I have not personally experienced any of them.

Do newspapers invent those stories? No, they don’t, but they look for them because of nothing else interesting enough happening in Costa Rica. And most crime does not happen in the nice neighborhoods, where the gringos live.

Once you have decided to move to Costa Rica, and to rent or to buy, you need to ask “is the neighborhood safe?”

Social welfare

In Costa Rica, we have a lot of petty thieveries, since there is no social welfare program. If you’re starving, you have no job and you gotta feed the babies, what is left?

The slums

Plan to live in the slums? Then you better take some self-defense courses and buy yourself a gun. Make sure you get a permit to carry your gun. You can if you have legal residency. Use your intelligence to buy or rent in the right neighborhood.

Not gated

Living in a community that is not gated is not necessarily unsafe. Get to know your new neighbors and ask them if it is a safe neighborhood or not. Breaking and entering are quite common, especially when there is nobody at home. Going on vacation? Make sure someone is home while you’re away. Or install a good home security system.


Most foreigners, me included, live in gated communities. Or condominiums or even neighborhoods with controlled access. Living in a condominium has a cost factor. You need to include this cost in your budget. Before you buy or rent, find out what the HOA fees are. And ask your real estate agent if the neighborhood is safe.

Car theft

Wherever you are and when you park, do not leave any valuables in your car. Even when it’s locked, and they see your laptop or suitcases inside, you might get robbed. Cars rarely get stolen anymore, but broken into, especially in the tourist areas.

Downtown areas

There are certain downtown neighborhoods, in every city in Costa Rica, that is unsafe. When going downtown, leave your jewelry at home.  Don’t carry your valuables, such as a camera, for all to see. Try to stay in a neighborhood that is safe.

This is a collection of Costa Rica real estate FAQ – frequently asked questions that I have put together to help you in buying or selling a home. Do you have any other questions that are not listed in our FAQ blog? Then feel free to leave them in the comment section below or send me a request. You can also subscribe to our FREE weekly newsletter, The Easy Times, below.

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Ivo Henfling

Ivo Henfling started the American European Real Estate Network Costa Rica in 1996 and has grown it into the largest Costa Rica MLS with thousands of up to date property listings for sale and for rent. Ivo has written hundreds of articles about real estate and living in Costa Rica for The Tico Times and other online informational sites.

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