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5 Considerations for purchasing a house in Costa Rica

5 Considerations for purchasing a house in Costa RicaWhen moving to Costa Rica, you may not know if you will rent or buy. Is purchasing a house in Costa Rica what you really want? A few will get suckered in by a realtor into buying right away, even when they had planned to rent in the first place.

Before you make the commitment of purchasing a house in Costa Rica, I will try to clear up some issues that might assist in your decision between buying or renting.

There are many reasons I’ve heard for NOT buying a house when you move to Costa Rica.

Here are just a few:

1.      I don’t want my kids to end up with a problem in Costa Rica after I die.

2.      Staying mobile is a priority, I might hate living in Costa Rica.

3.      I want the perfect location and I’m very difficult, so I want to move every year.

4.      Why buy if I can rent?

See how easy it is to say NO to purchasing a house in Costa Rica? If any of those reasons fit you, now may not be the best time to buy.

But, if those are not issues for you, how do you decide whether to buy a home or not?

5 Considerations for purchasing a house in Costa Rica

Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

1. Is it just an adventure?

Many of us started our move to Costa Rica as an adventure. Oh yes, I’m one of those. I started my adventure in February 1980 and it took me and my family 23 hours to get here (eight of those sitting in a closed Tocumen airport, Panama, in the middle of the night, with 15 suitcases.)

We began the adventure with the whole family and now, over 35 years later, we’re spread all over the world. That shows how easy it is to start an adventure and move on to a new one. If you only came to Costa Rica for an adventure, renting may be your best strategy.

2. How Committed are you?

During all the years I’ve lived in Costa Rica I have seen lots of people come and go. Often, they couldn’t adjust to the lifestyle that Costa Rica offers. Or better said, they couldn’t get past their culture shock. Many of those were renting and had their suitcases packed and ready to leave whenever they decided it was enough. For sure, they were not committed to making their adventure work and, often, it was the worst vacation they ever had.

There are several ways to commit to a long-term adventure:

1.      Learn as much Spanish as you can.

2.      Marry a local and work hard at your marriage to make it function.

3.      Adopt Costa Rica as your new home country.

If you are committed to making your adventure work, long-term, buying a home can be a good move.

5 Considerations for purchasing a house in Costa Rica

3. Do you want to establish a home?

If you pass the commitment test, you will often feel more established if you own a home, rather than renting. As a homeowner, you are usually more involved in what is going on in the neighborhood. Plus, when you own it, you’ll feel more compelled to turn a house into a home.

In my real estate career, I have known a few that have rented for as long as five years, but most had moved on even before that amount of time had passed. In other words, by purchasing a house in Costa Rica, you will feel much more committed to your adventure. And owning a home is the first big step of “going native.”

4. Buy to create wealth?

Who said you must buy a house to create wealth? Who cares about wealth in Costa Rica? Just living here, meeting interesting people, enjoying the great weather and living the Pura Vida lifestyle is worth more than any wealth in the world. Property values everywhere vary up and down, so who knows what value your property will have when it’s time to sell. So please, do NOT buy a home to create wealth, it may not work.

5 Considerations for purchasing a house in Costa Rica

5. Do you only want to buy for Investment?

Buying a house in Costa Rica simply for investment can be risky. But, have you had a good look at the ROI you’re getting on your other investments lately? How much interest is your banker paying on your CD? Are your stock market funds doing any better? If not, now may be a good time to have a look around. Buying a home in Costa can be a good investment that might return more than traditional holdings. But remember, like any other financial investment, there is no guarantee of constantly rising values.

There are many more questions you can ask yourself, but these are a good place to start.  If you have more questions about purchasing a house in Costa Rica, please contact me.


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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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