A Buyer's Agent in Costa Rica
The Information Hub
Welcome! We're always looking for new ways to help our clients. We have developed this section of our site in order to pool as much information in one convenient location. We are continually developing useful tools and adding resources. You are welcome to contact us at any time. We are happy to answer your questions if you aren't finding the answers here.
Sustainable Living. Secure Investment.
Attraction Law for Investors, Rentiers, and Pensioners
Download a translated copy of the new bill 288 which defines the newly established legislation surrounding residency and benefits of moving and investing in Costa Rica. This exciting new development helps individuals interested in developing a life in Costa Rica full time, in addition, allows working digital nomads the opportunity to settle in Costa Rica.
Making Costa Rica Home
The immigration laws in Costa Rica offer numerous options for people to gain legal immigration status in the country. There are opportunities for retirees, people on fixed incomes, investors, spouses, or parents of a Costa Rican. In addition, you may be eligible as self-employed persons or entrepreneurs, or employees of a company. Recommended law firm: Zurcher Odio & Raven
Banking and Money Transfers
Residents of Costa Rica can open a bank account with all necessary tools such as online bill payments, interbank transferring, and SINPE Móvil. If you are not yet a resident you can still open a bank account however services may be limited. If you would like to benefit from having the additional services you can open an account under corporations. With a Cedula Juridica number will be allowed to use the account as a local in addition to being able to purchase phone plans and other similar long-term services.
Límon experiences heavy rains and the warm temperatures of the Caribbean tropical zone. Many claim the less traveled Limon province is a hidden gem.
Further south is Costa Rica’s tropical wet zones with many rainforests. If you love hot and humid, you'll feel right at home along the Puntarenas coast.
Most of Nicoya and Guanacaste is covered by tropical dry forest, receiving less rainfall than anywhere else in the country. Temperatures close to the beach are very hot, while moving further inland and higher the air cools.
Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, San Jose:
As we travel up to the Central Valley it feels much cooler, but even there, temperatures and waterfall differ dramatically. The area experiences less intense heat, typically hot mornings followed by cool afternoons and evenings.
12 Climate Zones
One of the most popular systems used in Costa Rica for the classification of ecosystems is the Life Zone System developed by Holdridge. This system divides Costa Rica into 12 Life Zones and 11 Transition Zones based on environmental factors such as humidity, rainfall, and temperature. There are other ecosystems found in Costa Rica that are not categorized by the Holdridge system like coral reefs and dry forests.
Purchasing in Costa Rica
5 Common Mistakes when Purchasing Property in Costa Rica
It’s exciting to buy property in Costa Rica, the options are plentiful, so it’s helpful not to get too carried away. Everyone dreams of owning their piece of paradise by the ocean, maybe a beautiful mountain property with a pristine river or hot spring. Costa Rica is a natural wonder with highly acclaimed blue zones and nature reserves. The country draws individuals looking to not only own property but live a tranquil and simpler life.
I'm Your Realtor. Meet My Team.
Ready to Sign. We are here for you.
Closing on a Sale
The “declared value” of the property at the time of closing is the basis for the annual property tax which is 0.75% (e.g., $100,000 property would pay $750 per year federal property taxes). This declared amount also determines what you will pay in closing costs:
Transfer Tax 1.51%
Stamps for Registry 0.5%
Stamps for Documents 0.3%
Attorney Fees 1%
Notary Fees 1% – 1.25%
= 3.31% – 3.56%
Are you planning on moving to Costa Rica or are you a local who wants to create an accurate lifestyle budget plan?
We've created a Lifestyle calculator to help you with this invigorating transition. Using price averages from the central valley region, you can successfully budget your move.
Additionally, we've added a mortgage calculator. Alongside this calculator, you can find a brief description of what to expect when buying in this region.
Both public and private schools can be found throughout the country. However, the Central Valley offers the most variety for families looking to live in Costa Rica long-term. There are many bilingual schools in addition to, high quality educational programs and alternative education such as Waldorf and Montessori. The Central Valley has many extra-curricular activities that range from recreational the professional learning. See a list of schools in our Database.
School is Costa Rica
Any child may join a school in Costa Rica within either the public or private system. However, public schools do not operate in the same way as those in North America. A typical school day is from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm and the school year is from February to early December. However, schools that are overcrowded may split the school day into two groups. There aren't supply teachers within the public system so if your child's teacher is sick they will most likely be sent home for the day. Public schools in Costa Rica offer the most basic of educational services, therefore there are very few resources or manipulatives. Sitting at a desk and copying information from the board is the norm, didactic and rote learning are the preferred teaching methods. Public schools value strong musical programs including exceptional marching bands. They offer cultural studies such as traditional dancing and of course, Futbol (soccer) is widely celebrated and taught. All throughout Costa Rica, the 'Rights of the Child" are highly regarded.
Therefore, the private system is popular for both locals and newly immigrated families. Costa Ricans are highly educated, Costa Rica's education system is ranked 54th in the "Global Competitiveness Report 2013–14", and is described as "high quality". The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 97.9 % and it is 2 points over the average for Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Private schools are plentiful and both public and private schools receive accreditation through MEP. While public schools are free, private school tuition varies between $150/month to $1,500/month depending on the institution. The most expensive institutions will have international accreditation and/or are members of the International Baccalaureate program. MEP is not necessarily recognized globally so be prepared to check within your institutions of interest. Some private schools will follow the North American schedule, operating from around late August to early June.
Uniforms are very popular in Costa Rica. Across Costa Rica, children wear blue dress pants, shorts, or skirts with white dress shirts. The private school uniforms vary from very formal to only a uniform polo or t-shirt.
Our children attend CIT Vocational school. The school has strong math, programming, and robotics program in addition to an entrepreneurial and environmental focus. The school has organic gardens and animals. Our tuition is approximately $270/month.
Sustainable Living. Secure Investment.
Hidden Trails and Sights in Costa Rica
Que Buen Lugar is our favorite site for finding beautiful hidden locations in Costa Rica. The site gives clear directions to each location and offers you important information such as; length of the hike and difficulty. We've been able to explore locations around the central valley with our kids, to the joy of the whole family. Que Buen Lugar translates to What a Great Space! We could not agree more, not only does it share the best locations but is a clear and informative site as well.
Renting a Car in Costa Rica
Many newcomers marvel at the cost of car rentals. Often the deals you find online do not reflect what you will actually pay once you land in Costa Rica. That is because the online rates do not include the required insurance. Typically you will be paying around $40/day. If however, your credit card will cover you in the event of an accident, some companies will allow you to wave the insurance fees. Be prepared to print out this information. In our experience Budget was the company most likely to allow for this alteration.
Kinto Sharing Program
In our neighborhood, we have the Kinto rideshare program. Having Kinto close by means that we can easily book a car, unlock it with the app, and be on our way within minutes. The monthly fee covers gas, and of course, there is no maintenance. For our family, this has given us the mobility we desire for trips around the city without spending money on unnecessary capital.
House Hacking in Costa Rica
House hacking is a great real estate investment strategy when owning multi-family rental properties. House hacking is when you live in one of the multiple units of your investment property as your primary residence, and have renters from the other units pay your mortgage and expenses.
Why Does House Hacking Work
So Well in Costa Rica?
There are excellent housing options in Costa Rica. The Central Valley in particular is a growing market that attracts both foreigners and the thriving local population. The Central Valley experiences fewer vacancies, you can rent primarily unfurnished, and in general, will have access to the multiple amenities and resources this modern area provides. HOA fees are lower than fees in rural beach areas, as well as, water and electricity costs. Property taxes throughout Costa Rica are also low at only 0.75%.
Do Your Homework and Invest Wisely
Many people question the types of investment they could pursue in Costa Rica. People who do their homework, they will find that Costa Rica is a secure place to invest. Although you'll hear otherwise, it's important to note that many people come to Costa Rica without a solid plan. Therefore, we help by giving our clients insight into the various markets and opportunities so that they make wise investments.
Make Costa Rica home focuses on residential real estate however, we also have our own commercial real estate team. The team has over 40 years of experience with business in Costa Rica.
There are multiple ways to invest or diversify your investment portfolio.
Visit Buy Hotels Costa Rica and learn more about the many investment opportunities you have here.
Building in Costa Rica
Building in Costa Rica
In 2019, construction cost in Costa Rica was estimated between $70–$115 per square foot or $750–$1,200 per square meter. You may find lower estimates online around $20 per square foot however, most likely those estimates refer to builds with cheaper materials where the main cost is labor. Although labor costs can be much lower in Costa Rica some materials are more expensive.
If you're set on building your own home please consider the following; your experience will be very different depending on the area, the building process is slower than North American or European builds, and if you aren't fluent in Spanish it may take a lot more of your focus and energy.
If you have properly considered if it's right for you, take a moment to read about buying property in Costa Rica. Not all land is ready for construction and you should have a good idea about the types of properties that would suit your build. Don't make assumptions that a lot has, water, electricity, internet, or clear title.
Pre-Fab Modular Homes
LIVI specializes in building high-quality, stress-free factory-built houses, seismically superior to traditional homes. They are delivered in twelve weeks or less and installed in one day, making them a great option for people without experience in building.
What makes LIVI affordable is that they have ready-made designs available, however, they can also create custom homes at an extra cost. The modular home can be expanded easily so you can start small and grow slowly. The homes are built off-site so that the building process can start before permitting is completed.
In addition, homes are delivered with finishes such as tiles, cabinetry, faucets, lights, and water heaters, etc. You can request extras such as; internal integrated speakers, smart home features, security cameras, solar panels, and more.
LIVI prepares the land and at extra costs applies for building permits. This one-stop-shop will have you living on your new property faster with far less stress and guesswork.
If you'd like to know about our personal experience working with LIVI, please contact us. We are currently building with LIVI.
U.S & Canadian
Living or Working Abroad
Canadians who live or work abroad may still have to pay Canadian, provincial, or territorial income taxes. If you are planning to be outside Canada for an extended period of time, you should inform the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) before you go to ask for a determination of your residency status.
For Americans The US has put several important deductions, exclusions, and credits in place to ensure you aren't taxed twice on the same income. Most expats are able to offset all of their foreign earned income with the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion & Foreign Tax Credit.
Pregnancy & Birth.
Having a Baby in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, you have the option to give birth within the public and private health care systems. In addition, you can plan for a home birth. Whatever you decide there are important steps to consider and above all, please consult your doctor and other health care professionals.
We have provided some resources for you and share here our personal experiences. Through our pregnancies, we navigated the private, public, and homecare, options. However, we are not medical professionals therefore, your final decision should be discussed with the necessary professionals.
Delivery in Public Hospitals
Costa Rican citizens, residents, and foreigners have the right to deliver within the public system. Births within this system have no fees (this may have changed temporarily due to the pandemic). The public hospital is well equipped to deal with emergencies. However, there aren't option for pain relief such as an epidural therefore, birth is natural except in an emergency situation when a cesarian procedure is needed. Costa Rica has a high
From personal experience, we suggest not laboring in the public hospital. Should you choose to deliver there you may be restricted on what personal items you can bring, may have to labor in a shared space, and will have less control over your birth environment. Therefore, we suggest only arriving for delivery and labor close by in comfort with a doula or coach. Your partner is permitted in the hospital to help you and the birth certificate process begins there as well.
Delivery in Private Hospital
Private hospitals have birth packages for couples who wish to deliver within this system. The cost of the birth packages varies per hospital, as do the services. Some packages include special treatments such as hair and nails for the delivering mother with gifts for the baby. The costs of these packages are often separate from the costs of the doctor and medical staff fees so it's best to inquire in advance. On average, the cost to deliver in a Private Hospital is around $4,000. Many ex-pats choose CIMA but after interviewing several women, the most positive experiences were had through Clinica Biblica who seem to better support natural birth and had birthing tubs available in some clinics.
Home Births within Costa Rica
Home births are permitted in Costa Rica however, aren't as popular as hospital births. Because of this, it may be difficult to find a midwife, especially in more remote areas. There are practicing midwives within the central valley and often women travel to this area before delivery. When planning a home birth make sure you have an emergency plan in place and a hospital or ambulance is readily available. If you'd like a list of midwives we used please contact Miranda directly. Mamasol is a midwife organization in Costa Rica and can also provide you with specific information, including contact information for midwives and doulas. The cost of a home birth will likely be between $1,000 - $2,000. Casa Kuna Verde is a recommended gynecologist and homeopathic doctor.
The birth certificate process can be more difficult with home births however, not impossible. The easiest way to begin this process is to visit a public hospital within 48 hours of the birth. Otherwise, there will be a few more steps. You will require two witnesses who can answer questions in Spanish, proof of pregnancy such as ultrasounds, proof of the required vaccinations, and letters from the midwives. See attachments for more information. If you require a short-term stay in the central valley, Concasa Campo Real has many Airbnbs that are safe, conveniently located, and affordable.
Sustainable Living. Secure Investment.
Travel Discounts to Costa Rica
Travel Discounts To and From
Costa Rica with Infinite Travel
Infinite Travel is powered by the Discount Network, an alliance of suppliers of travel and leisure products, customer service channels, sales and marketing agents, and a daring product development team. We have created a travel and leisure program that is second to none, and we are proud to offer all our subscribers the best possible rates whenever they travel.
As a subscriber, you can browse and book hotels and condos through the site, and for all other services, we recommend that you take advantage of our concierge agents. Our agents are there to help you, so you don't have to spend your valuable time comparing prices all over the internet.
Subscription is subject to an annual subscription fee, and in order to continue to use the program, every subscriber must keep their subscription fee current. Subscription fees are collected by our appointed customer service agent.
If you are traveling for business or pleasure, we are here for you, and remember, subscribers that subscribe to the full program can also share their subscription with family members or friends.
Health Insurance in Costa Rica
Health Insurance or
Medical Assistance in Costa Rica
For insurance one of our most recommended insurance brokers is Best Insurance Costa Rica. Insurance brokers work for you and find you the right company to suit your needs. They can help with:
- Health insurance
- Car insurance
- Homeowners insurance
- Life insurance
- Restaurants insurance
- Condominiums insurance
- Liability insurance
- Construction insurance
- Much more
If you aren't looking for full medical coverage but saving on medical, dental, and veterinarian services, for a low monthly rate you acquire a plan from MediSmart.
The MediSmart Plan is a prepaid medicine plan that brings medical benefits to your friends, family, and you. Plans give you access to benefits of up to 80% in different specialties and medical services (X-rays, Ultrasound, etc).
Doctors & Psychiatrists in Costa Rica
Find a Doctor or Psychiatrist in
If you are looking for a doctor, like most countries, Costa Rica has a college of medical physicians. This includes all physicians who require a certificate to practice including acupuncturists. To search for a medical professional you can visit the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Costa Rica webpage a do a search by professional and location.
Similarly, if you are looking for a psychiatrist, you can visit the website of the college of Therapists. You can also search by professional and location.
Medical, Psychiatric, and Dental care are excellent in Costa Rica and it is not uncommon for people to travel here for these services. Dental in particular is very affordable in Costa Rica.
Making the Move the Smart Way
Make Costa Rica Home is pleased to be working with StartAbroad, an international relocation specialist. StartAbroad takes the stressful aspects of the move off of your plate so that you can get excited for your next adventure. They offer services that cover any aspect of your move, from discovery and planning to three months after you are happily settled into your new home. Co-founders Anna and Zach have expertise in international HR and program management in developing countries, and have relocated over 100 North Americans and Europeans overseas.