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Relocating to Costa Rica

Relocating to Costa Rica: A Guide to Finding Your Perfect Home

Are you considering relocating to Costa Rica? Whether you’re looking for a permanent residence or a vacation home, this beautiful country has something to offer everyone. Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise, from stunning beaches to lush rainforests. However, finding the perfect home in a foreign country can take time and effort. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the real estate market and find your dream home in Costa Rica.


Once you have decided that Costa Rica is going to be your new home, you should start looking for information regarding the following topics:

  • Immigration;

  • Banking and credit;

  • Car purchases and the “marchamo” (Annual car tax/circulation fee);

  • Starting a business;

  • Real Estate.


Immigration Procedures

Immigration may seem complicated, but a representative can do a large majority of the process for you if you find the right company to represent you to the government. Remember, most lawyers are not specialized immigration experts! Many may practice law in general but not concentrate on immigration law. Find a company that specializes in dealing with immigration. The process is entirely different based on the category you select, such as Pensionado (pension/retired), Rentista (fixed income), Investor, Spouse/Parent of a Costa Rican, and more. If you require assistance with your residency status or category selection, please do not hesitate to contact our top-recommended immigration company CRIE, also known as Costa Rica Immigration Experts.



Banking and Credit

As an ex-pat, you are most likely coming with some capital to your name due to selling off your assets in your native country. You can expect little help from your local bank because they usually only work with you once you are at least a permanent resident or a citizen. Opening a bank account should still be possible, but transferring money without your DIMEX (residency) can be difficult. Luckily, companies here have noticed this banking issue and created solutions for you, such as private equity loans. Compared to the rates offered by local banks, these personal lending options are competitive once you understand the semantics of loans here. The interest rate on a typical loan can be approximately 12-16% depending on the LTV (loan to value) of the property you are using as collateral vs. the amount you are trying to borrow. We recommend contacting our sister company, GAP Equity Loans, and filling out their loan request to get started!



Car Purchase

Automobile duty prices in Costa Rica have decreased over the past few years, although you will likely find that they are more expensive here than in your home country, especially if you’re from North America. Although there are many vehicle brands to choose from, we recommend buying the brands and models with parts easily accessible in Costa Rica. These manufacturers include Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan, and Hyundai, to mention a few. Many dealers must place orders for details directly with the factory, which can take some time. For example, I’ve had to wait for a water pump for my Chevy Trailblazer for two months as it wasn’t a typical part!



Starting a Business

Additional services apart from Immigration can be provided by CRIE, such as opening a Costa Rican bank account, obtaining insurance (life, home, automotive, medical), bookkeeping Services, civil marriage ceremonies, will and probate, civil lawsuits or criminal charges, company formations and corporate structures, and more. If you need help with any of these services, do not hesitate to contact CRIE here.


Real Estate Purchase

Purchasing real estate can be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the process. Although once the process has been completed, many have stated it was simple, just different from what they are used to. The Government doesn’t mandate “Full Disclosure,” so it is a buyer-beware scenario! Look at the “Plano” and ask your trusted lawyer to check it for any liens, lawsuits, etc., at the registry. It is a quick and inexpensive solution that can prevent unforeseen complications.

It’s always in your best interest to hire your own lawyer, as it is your attorney’s job to safeguard you. I’d be wary of any lawyers with any possible conflict of interest. Referrals from people already here can be a great way to discover a reliable and trustworthy attorney after your due diligence. Referrals from multiple sources are preferred. If you are interested in purchasing real estate in Costa Rica, don’t hesitate to contact us with your specific needs here or browse through our real estate catalog at GAP Real Estate!



Understanding the Real Estate Market in Costa Rica

The real estate market in Costa Rica has been on the rise in recent years, with an increasing number of foreign buyers looking to purchase property in this tropical paradise. The market is diverse, with options ranging from luxury villas to more affordable properties. Prices vary depending on the property’s location, size, and condition.

One important thing to note is that Costa Rica operates on a different system than most other countries regarding property ownership. Instead of the traditional fee simple ownership, Costa Rica works on a “usufruct” system. This means that the government owns the property, and the buyer is given the right to use and enjoy the property for a specified period, usually 50 to 99 years.


Finding the Right Location

When looking for a property in Costa Rica, location is critical. The country is divided into seven provinces, each with its unique characteristics. Some popular choices for ex-pats include the Central Valley, which offers a more urban lifestyle with access to amenities such as hospitals and international schools. On the other hand, Guanacaste province is known for its beautiful beaches and is a popular destination for retirees.

Another factor is proximity to amenities such as airports, hospitals, and supermarkets. If you’re looking for a more secluded and tranquil lifestyle, a property in the countryside might be a better fit.


Working with a Real Estate Agent

Working with a reputable real estate agent can make finding a property in Costa Rica much easier. A good agent can guide you through the process and help you find properties that match your specific needs and budget. They will also be able to assist with the legal and administrative aspects of purchasing property in Costa Rica.


Making an Offer

Once you’ve found a property you’re interested in, the next step is making an offer. The offer should include the purchase price and any contingencies, such as a home inspection or financing. Once the offer is accepted, the next step is to complete the due diligence process and sign the purchase and sale agreement.


Closing the Sale

The final step in purchasing a property in Costa Rica is closing the sale. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the transaction. I want you to know that working with a reputable lawyer is essential to ensure the transaction is completed smoothly.

In conclusion, relocating to Costa Rica can be a dream come true, but finding the perfect home can be daunting. By understanding the real estate market, finding the right location, working with a real estate agent, making an offer, and closing the sale, you can make the process much easier and find the perfect home in this beautiful country.


-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of Grupo Gap)

+506 8500-2085


Need Real Estate in Costa Rica? – Contact us HERE!


Need a loan? – Click HERE.
Want to invest? – Click HERE.
Looking for a Residency in Costa Rica? – Click HERE.
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