Retiring in Costa Rica May Get Easier

For those thinking of retiring in Costa Rica, I have great news! A bill to attract retirees to Costa Rica has passed the first debate in the Legislative Assembly. But what does this bill entail? Let me explain.

Playa Hermosa

The bill that is advancing is under the file number 22.156 and is named the “Law to Attract Investors, Rentistas and Retirees.” The main objective is to reduce the capital investment requirement for a residency in Costa Rica from $200,000 USD to $150,000 USD. This investment can be in Costa Rican real estate, which is usually the most common option for investors. But it can also be an investment in registrable assets, shares, securities, and productive projects or projects of national interest in Costa Rica.

This proposed $50,000 USD reduction in capital investment is huge. It allows for a much larger window of foreign investors to come and make the move to Costa Rica. Not only does this benefit foreign investors but also the Costa Rican economy. More investors, means more consumption as well as a larger need for medical services which would generate jobs.

Additionally, this bill is also proposing certain tax exemptions to incentivize investors to choose Costa Rica. The three main tax exemptions are a 100% tax exemption for importing household goods, 100% tax exemption for importing vehicles, and a 20% tax exemption for the transfer of property.

If this bill passes, all those who wish to move or retire to Costa Rica will be able to ship their personal goods for significantly less. You will be able to import 2 vehicles, for personal use, exempt from all import, tariff, and value added taxes. Currently the total tax on importing a vehicle into Costa Rica is about 45%-85% the value of the vehicle. The current tax on importing personal household goods is 13% of the declared value of said goods. Thousands of dollars will be saved by investors if these taxes are no longer imposed on them.

Furthermore, money earned outside of the country will not be taxed by Costa Rica, for example a U.S. pension. Only profits obtained within Costa Rica would pay a tax. This would prevent double taxation and is very inviting to those interested in retiring in Costa Rica.

Lastly, this bill hopes to extend the length of stay in the country of those who enter as investors, pensioners or rentiers to 10 years instead of the current temporary stay for a period of between three months and two years.

Playa Hermosa

All of these proposed incentives would really make a difference for those who are looking to make the move or retire in Costa Rica. As well as the Costa Rican economy. The second debate is scheduled for Thursday, June 17th. If this bill passes the second debate it will be able to be made into a law. Check back soon to see if it passes and keep your fingers crossed!

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Beach Day Trips From Playa Hermosa

The moment after you settle into your new home in Hermosa or Coco, is when you can treat yourself to endless beach days! Playa Hermosa and Playa del Coco are beautiful, but they are also centrally located to other incredible beaches. Why not take a day trip and explore?Nacascolo Beach in Guanacaste
Let’s head north first! The first stop is Playa Iguanita. Warning, a 4×4 vehicle is required. Playa Iguanita is about a 40 minute drive from Playa Hermosa. It is located in the Iguanita Wildlife Refuge in the Gulf of Papagayo. You will find that the waves at this beach are gentle and calm. The water is crystal clear and an estuary is located at the south end. There is a ranger station with bathrooms and showers but no other amenities are close by. Playa Iguanita is ideal for those looking for a beautiful wildlife oasis.

Further north, is Playa Cabuyal. Playa Cabuyal is also a 40 minute drive but the roads are in much better condition. It has pristine white sands and crazy clear blue water. This is a wild beach with plenty of privacy and trees for shade to relax the day away. There are a few amenities like picnic tables, bathrooms, and a small parking lot for you to use. This beach has a swell but it is still very safe to swim. Playa Cabuyal is perfect for those looking for peace and quiet.

Playa Penca Beach
Time to switch directions! If you start heading south to Coco from Playa Hermosa, within 2 minutes you arrive at the entrance to some exquisite beaches! These two beaches, right before the Cacique development, have recently gained a lot of popularity. Playa Penca and Calzón de Pobre are both small pristine light colored sand beaches that feel like a wild paradise. The road can be a bit difficult depending on the season. These virgin beaches have great snorkeling and lookout spots but no amenities. Be prepared to be amazed at the beauty right next door!

South of Coco, about a 30 minute drive, is Playa Matapalo. The road to this beach is good because it is the same beach that the RIU resorts are on. The Diamante Eco Adventure Park is also located off of the same road. Playa Matapalo is a lovely long sandy beach hugged by mountains and plenty of wildlife. You have the option to rent ATVs, go horseback riding, or hike around at this beach. If you are looking for a beach that is still fairly wild but also has some activities, this is the one for you.

Playa Penca - beach in Costa Rica
Instead of going all the way to Matapalo, you can turn down the “monkey trail”. Within 40 minutes you will arrive at Playa Flamingo! Playa Flamingo is very unlike the previously mentioned beaches. It is not a virgin beach but instead it is bustling with activity, businesses, and people. Playa Flamingo is a white sand beach, almost even with a pink hue, hence the name. The waves are generally smaller but they can be very powerful. With many restaurants to choose from, this is a great beach for when you don’t feel like packing a lunch.

The last beach I want to mention is Playa Tamarindo. It is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Playa Hermosa. This beach is well known for surfing and great night life. It is similar to Playa Flamingo because it is packed with businesses. You have so many restaurants, gift shops, hotels, and amenities to choose from. Tamarindo is a long white sand beach with Playa Grande to the north if you cross the estuary. If you are looking for a party or surf lessons this is definitely the beach to check out.

Sunset at Playa Hermosa - beach in Costa Rica
This short list does not cover all the incredible beaches close to Playa Hermosa or Playa del Coco. There are so many more beautiful beaches that can be enjoyed by taking a simple day trip. Make sure to go out and explore!

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Clothing Shopping Options Near Playa del Coco

Inevitably, since you moved to Playas del Coco or Playa Hermosa a few months ago you became healthier, tanner, and thinner. Or maybe you realized you did not bring enough bathing suits. Regardless of the reason, it’s time for some new clothes! But where can you shop for clothes near Playa del Coco?

Shopping Mall in Liberia near Playas del Coco
Shopping for clothes in Costa Rica is easy. Mainly due to the fact that the dress code is casual, comfortable, and there are no drastic temperature changes to fret about! The average temperature is between 70’ to 90’. A t-shirt, some shorts, and a pair of flip flops is all you need.

Right in downtown Coco you will find a plethora of tourist shops filled to the brim with various colorful shirts, dresses, pants, and accessories. You can never have too many shirts that say Pura Vida or I Love Costa Rica. Feel free to bargain at these shops to get a better deal if you end up buying a few outfits. The price is always negotiable!

Also in Coco you will find numerous boutiques that have various interesting fabrics and designs bound to catch your attention. These boutiques often have clothing or accessories made by local artists. These handcrafted pieces are one of a kind and perfect for the beach climate. You can help support your local community just by shopping!

Playa del Coco
Even the majority of grocery stores (such as Megasuper, Luperon, or Automercado) in Coco will carry basic clothing essentials. Along with your groceries you can pick up a tank top or a skirt. There are also a few Costa Rica clothing store chains like Fusion or Arenas in downtown Coco. These stores will have a variety of options to choose from and often have decent sales.

Another option right in town are stores called “Ropa Americana” which are second hand clothing stores. These shops sell gently used American/name-brand clothing at a very reasonable price. This is a great way to get American quality clothing for super cheap and be eco-friendly! You never know what trendy pieces you will come across!

As you start heading towards Liberia, the clothing options are endless. Pricesmart, which is similar to Costco, has a large selection of high quality clothing for fantastic prices. From underwear to raincoats, you can cover all your bases. Another great option is Walmart, which most folks are familiar with. They have a large variety and cheap prices.

Once in Liberia, every way you turn your head you will see clothes! From chain clothing stores to street vendors to various “Ropa Americanas” it will take you a week to check them all out. There are clothing options for all sizes, all styles, and all budgets. There is even a shopping mall in Liberia!

Inside the Liberia shopping mall in Costa Rica

Make the move to Costa Rica today. With so many places to shop, you don’t even need to pack a suitcase.

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Update on Covid-19 in Costa Rica: May 20th, 2021

Covid-19 is still a constant in everyone’s lives all over the world. Here in Costa Rica, specifically in the Guanacaste region, we have been very lucky to have had a very mild experience. We continue following social distancing protocols, wearing masks, and washing our hands as frequently as possible to stay healthy and safe.

Tranquil Costa Rica beach
Last month, during the Holy Week, we had a spike in cases. Many folks from San Jose traveled to the beaches for the holidays. Thankfully, we were able to keep the Covid-19 cases under control. The Costa Rican government was quick to reinstate curfews and additional driving restrictions to keep the spread of Covid-19 down.

On May 4th, Costa Rica was close to administering almost 1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine! This means that 1 in 6 adults has already received one vaccine dose. All regions of the country are already inoculating the 1st and 2nd groups of people, with some regions having started on the 3rd group as well. Costa Rica is actively requesting loans or donations of additional vaccines to quicken the inoculation process.

Costa Rica plans to reach herd immunity by the end of 2021! Which is great news for everyone who wants to come and visit. Costa Rica has recently been recognized among the best-perceived international destinations during the pandemic by a survey of tourism professionals in Spain. This poll considered details such as “Covid-19 security, prices and offers, nature and open spaces, connectivity/accessibility, reputational image and sustainability.”

Tourists near Playa Panama enjoying a vacation during semana santa
To enter Costa Rica, you will still need to have completed the online “Health Pass” form which can be found at You must continue to have proof of having obtained travel insurance. The great news is that a negative Covid test is not required for entry. You also will not need to quarantine. Hurray!

Many countries continue to require a Covid-19 test for return flights. Since May 14th, the SJO airport has been offering rapid antigen tests with results guaranteed within the hour. Locally, you can get a PCR test done in Playas del Coco. You can also get a rapid test done the day of your flight at the Liberia airport.

Come on down! The green season is just beginning. The Guanacaste region is starting to turn a lush green. There is plenty of room to social distance and enjoy the incredible weather! The beaches and national parks are all open. As a tourist you have no driving restrictions to worry about. As a homeowner/resident, there is nothing better than returning to your Costa Rican paradise and taking it easy. Isn’t it time you got out of quarantine and took a dip in the ocean?

Sunset at Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
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Exports of Costa Rica

Have you ever wondered what Costa Rica’s main exports are? The moment you start driving from the Liberia International Airport towards Playa del Coco or Playa Hermosa, you see fields and fields of crops growing. You often see sugar cane being harvested, cattle grazing, or melons being tended to. The statistics are quite fascinating and very impressive!

Pineapples - a major export of Costa Rica
Costa Rica which translates to a rich coast also has very rich soil! A large portion of what Costa Rica exports all over the world are agricultural goods. Costa Rica is very diversified in the products that are grown throughout the country. The main agricultural exports are bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, and beef.

In 2019, Costa Rica exported $1.18 billion in bananas. That’s more than a bunch of bananas! Costa Rica is actually the 3rd largest exporter of bananas in the world and it is their 2nd most exported product. The main destination for all these bananas is the United States. Costa Rica is also the top exporter of pineapples, 44% of the world’s pineapples are grown here. That is a total of 2.13 million tons of pineapples.

Aerial view of a Costa Rica farm near Playa Hermosa

Not only does Costa Rica export TONS of fruit but they also export a lot of coffee. 1,472,366 60 kg bags to be exact! Over 93,000 hectares of land are dedicated to growing this morning staple. Due to its quality and environmentally friendly production, Costa Rica coffee is generally priced at a premium. To sweeten the deal, Costa Rica grows an impressive amount of sugar cane. Coffee and sugar definitely go hand in hand. 230,000 metric tons of sugar are exported all over the world from Costa Rica. The Guanacaste region handles a large percentage of the sugar production for the country.

Shockingly enough, even with all this produce, Costa Rica still finds plenty of space for livestock. Livestock is one of the main economic activities in the rural sector of Costa Rica. As a matter of fact, pastures for livestock cover 20% of the national territory!

Costa Rica cattle
Not everything Costa Rica exports can be seen as you drive through the countryside. The country’s most important exports are medical instruments. In 2019, Costa Rica exported over $3 billion in medical instruments, $2 billion more than bananas. It is the 11th largest exporter of medical instruments. Costa Rica exports medical products such as therapeutic devices, medical and surgical instruments, disposables and diagnostic equipment. In 2017, medical devices overtook agricultural goods as the country’s most exported products.

Some additional interesting exports from this country are artificial body parts (prosthetics), pneumatic tires, insulated wires, medications, and fruit juice. In 2019, the total value of all the merchandise exported from Costa Rica was 11.4 billion! Costa Rica is a small but definitely mighty country.

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Furniture Shopping Options near Playa del Coco

You have just purchased your dream condo with a gorgeous view of Playa del Coco or a beautiful beach home just a few steps from Playa Hermosa. Now you focus your attention on giving the interior your own flare.

Maybe you feel attached to your furniture in the US or Canada. If so, you can ship your possessions to Costa Rica as I explained in a previous blog. But why not try out something new? The styles and options are endless! Modern, coastal, tropical, traditional, or zen, it’s all here! Once you decide, it is time to go on a shopping spree/treasure hunt for furniture! You have several options for where to buy furniture that are all within an hour of Playas del Coco. Also you have the option to shop online which will further expand your horizons.

tropical themed bedroom furniture in Costa Rica
We will start with the options closest to Playas del Coco and then explore a bit farther afield.

Monge & Gollo are two stores located right in the town of Playa del Coco! They do not have an extensive collection of furniture but you can definitely find a few couch, bed, or table options if you need something quick or in a pinch.

Furniture Outlet (next to the Do It Center near the Liberia airport) is a large warehouse stocked full of furniture for all the rooms in your home. They offer a variety of styles and prices. The Outlet gets 5 out of 5 on their Facebook reviews.

Bali Outdoor Living (in the Solarium near the Liberia airport) carries a full line of outdoor furniture, spas, grills, and accessories. They sell individual pieces or sets made of natural materials, synthetic rattan, metal, or plastic with quick-dry cushions.

tropical style living and dining furniture in Costa Rica
La Artistica (in the Solarium near the Liberia airport) is a Costa Rican furniture company with 80 years of experience. They have a store in Liberia offering a wide variety of living, dining, and bedroom furniture with a European flare. They also happen to be affiliated with Ashley furniture, keep reading it is listed below.

PriceSmart (across from the Liberia Airport) is similar to a Costco or Sam’s Club. It carries quality furniture at decent prices; however, the inventory changes often and it is usually not extensive. But it is worth taking a glance down the furniture aisle if you are shopping there anyway. You might be surprised at what is in stock!

Pequeño Mundo (in Liberia) is similar to PriceSmart in that it is not exclusively a furniture store. Mixed in amongst its extensive and varied inventory are budget-priced pieces of furniture. Most items are made of some combination of glass, metal, or laminated MDF. You can’t beat Pequeño Mundo for handy storage options, bar stools, decorative items, and housewares.

Casa Nova Interiors (in Huacas) is on the road to Flamingo Beach. The Central American company says they take the “overwhelming” out of furniture shopping and interior design. According to their website, the manufacturers they represent are “trendsetters who break the mold with new technology and design innovation.”

Seaside Home Interiors (in Tamarindo) offers name-brand or custom-made furniture, window treatments, and decorating accessories. Their website says, “Our local knowledge of the unique nuances of furnishing and decorating in tropical conditions will ensure you make all the right decisions.”

living room furniture in Costa Rica
Casa y Mas (near Villareal) is a 5,000-square-meter household furniture store. The owner is originally from France and has more than 50 years in the furniture business—from design to manufacturing to sales. A European style is predominant in the wide selection of living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture. There are also a few pieces by Costa Rican woodworkers on display.

Jungle Luxe (in Tamarindo) has curated furniture, décor, bedding, and lighting from around the world. Their products definitely have a colorful, tropical, Asian vibe.

Crate & Barrel is in San Jose but you can make your selection online or in-store and have it delivered to your doorstep. Crate & Barrel is known for its timeless and contemporary furniture and decor which gives your home a natural, comfortable feel. They also offer dinnerware, textiles, artwork, lighting, and decorative items that complement organic modern design.

Ashley Furniture HomeStore is also located in San Jose with an extensive online catalog from which you can make your selection, place your order, and they will ship the order to your home. Besides indoor and outdoor furniture, they have a full line of lighting, rugs, and mattresses.

If you have in mind decorating your home with furniture made from exotic hardwoods, keep your eye out for local craftsmen that have their pieces displayed outside. Stop in and look around! The craftsmanship is usually top notch, and the wood is the jungle’s masterpiece.

Welcome home!

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Can a US citizen own property in Costa Rica?

Most of us spent a large portion of 2020 shopping online and traveling vicariously around the world. We would check out real estate sites and dream of living somewhere else—anywhere besides the place we were quarantining.

Before the pandemic, we dreamt of the possibility of staying home for a few days to relax and stop running the rat race. Then when we found ourselves trapped at home, we desperately wanted out. You were not alone in these feelings. Millions of people searched “living in Costa Rica” and hundreds—if not thousands—are now in the process of buying property in paradise.

Ocean view property near Playa Hermosa Costa Rica
Which raises the question, is it really possible for a foreigner to own property in Costa Rica? The simple answer to that question is yes. A foreigner that has not established residency has the same right to own property here as Costa Rican citizens. Ownership rights are guaranteed by law and apply whether the property is in the name of an individual or a corporation. Even if you are living in Costa Rica on a tourist visa (and leaving the country every 3 months) you can own property.

Consult an Expert – Due Diligence is Key

Although a real estate broker or realtor is not required to purchase property, it is always a good idea to have an expert guide you through the process. Especially when you have little or no experience purchasing property outside your native country. That is especially true when you are not familiar with the process and terminology involved in transacting business in a foreign land.

A title or deed is called an escritura. The first thing you are going to want to find out about a property is if the title is properly registered and free of liens. This is extremely important because it is common in Costa Rica for properties to have been in a family for years. Often these properties were never properly registered or have had the taxes paid. To do a title search, you (or your lawyer) will take a copy of the survey plan to the Public Registry of Properties in the city of Liberia. They will check their records and provide you with current information about the desired property.

Beautiful condo with a pool in Costa Rica
The process of transferring the title must be prepared by and executed before an attorney or notary. In North America, a notary only authenticates signatures, but in Costa Rica the role is much more expansive. To be a notary in Costa Rica you first must be an attorney, then go to school for 2 more years and pass more exams to become a “Notario” or notary.

How much can you expect to pay in closing costs? The custom in Costa Rica is for the buyer to pay the costs; however, this can be altered by agreement. The closing costs will be about 4-5 percent of the purchase price. The seller typically pays the realtor’s commission.

One Type of Property Foreigners Cannot Own

There is only one type of property that a person who has not been a legal resident of Costa Rica for 5 years cannot buy outright, and that is beachfront property. The first 200 meters inland from the high tide mark is called the Maritime Zone and can only be leased by a concession from the local municipality. This land is not titled. Concessions can be granted for 5 to 20 years, the latter being the more common.

Ocean view condo complex near Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste
The lease could be purchased through a legal shell corporation in which a Costa Rican citizen is the majority shareholder. Keep in mind the first 50 meters from the high tide mark is considered a public space and cannot be built on. There are strict requirements for building on the remaining 150 meters, so you will want to do all sorts of due diligence BEFORE deciding to purchase the concession.

There are so many beautiful properties in the Playa del Coco area just waiting for you to customize and call home. What a relief it is to know that you can own it without being a resident…although once you live here you will never want to leave!

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Costa Rican Zaguates

You are probably wondering what is a Zaguate?! A Zaguate is the Costa Rican way of referring to a stray, mix breed, or street dog. Basically, it is the national breed of Costa Rica.

Zaguates can be large or small, wire-hair or short-hair, young or old, black, white or anything in between. There is no combination of traits, colors, and looks that a zaguate has not achieved. Who wouldn’t want a wire-hair labrador dachshund terrier or a golden mini husky poodle? Many expats or tourists who visit will unexpectedly fall in love with a Costa Rican zaguate. These pups often end up wandering into your life when you least expect it.

one of my Zaguates in the front yard
Costa Rica unfortunately has a large stray dog population, especially in the more rural areas. Thankfully, many people have taken it upon themselves to help these charming zaguates. One of the largest shelters in Costa Rica is called Territorio de Zaguates or “The Land of Strays”. This shelter is home to over 1,300 dogs! Territorio de Zaguates strives to teach the citizens of Costa Rica the importance of castration and proper pet care. Another well known rescue organization in Costa Rica is Charlie’s Angels. Charlie’s Angels works on a much smaller scale, usually only taking in 15-20 dogs at a time. Both of these organizations often take in very neglected and abused animals. They work extremely hard to make sure every dog has its needs met and is restored back to good health. The best moment is always when they find the perfect home for each of their wonderfully unique pups.

My 4 Zaguates taking a nap
The best news is, you can find your very own zaguate locally! Here in Playa del Coco, we have our own organization called Patas y Manos. Patas y Manos is a nonprofit aimed at helping animals and humans within our local community. Many people living in Playa del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Panama help Patas y Manos foster dogs in need. This organization is always looking for someone to open their hearts to a zaguate of their own. I know I have 4 of them, the best dogs I ever had. Many people I know, one in particular, is my partner and he has 13, yes I said 13!

A group of Costa Rica Zaguates on the beach
Another great way to help a dog in need is to simply chat with your neighbors. Everyone knows someone who knows a zaguate that needs a home. Keep in mind that not every dog wandering on its own is a stray. Many people allow their castrated, adopted zaguates to continue visiting around the neighborhood or taking themselves on walks to the beach. Before adopting a dog right off the street, make sure you post on local social media groups or ask around in the community. If no one claims the pup, you now have a zaguate of your own! The local vet in Playa del Coco, Dr Jessica Jimenez, will give your zaguate an overall health check and help with any medical needs. After that, the only thing left to do is enjoy the company of a one of a kind, new best friend in paradise.

Street Dog (Zaguate) with a funny tooth
For those who cannot adopt, please donate to any of the beautiful organizations mentioned above. They all need your support!

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Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Costa Rica is home to a plethora of incredible national parks. We have a total of 6, just in Guanacaste! Rincón de la Vieja National Park is just a short drive away from Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco.

Waterfall in Rincon de la Vieja national park

Rincón de la Vieja, which translates to “The Old Women’s Corner/Nook”, protects over 34,000 acres. This national park offers hiking, swimming, horseback riding, camping, picnicking, and endless sightseeing. It is conveniently located only 1 hour from Playas del Coco or just 30 minutes from Liberia. This park is divided into 2 main sectors; Las Pilas & Santa Maria. Due to the size and the position of the park, the two sectors offer dynamically different climates. The west side of the park experiences a dry season during December-April.

While the east side stays perpetually lush on account of the Atlantic trade winds. So lush in fact, that the Santa Maria sector is actually responsible for supplying 40% of the water that is consumed by Liberia. You can discover over 30 rivers and streams throughout the landscape, all brimming with life. With all that water, along with a large range of elevation come many exquisite waterfalls! There are 4 major waterfalls with beautiful refreshing pools to swim in. The bright blue water will take your breath away!

Waterfall and pool in Rincon de la Vieja

Within Rincon de la Vieja you will also come across monkeys, anteaters, sloths, mountain goats, coatis, peccaries, agoutis, snakes, lizards, armadillos and over 300 bird species. Keep in mind to walk quietly and slowly not to miss anything while on the trails and don’t forget your binoculars. For the plant lovers, there are a 1000 species of orchids that can be found all over. The flora and fauna of this area will transfix you.

Rincon de la Vieja national park is named after the largest and most active volcano within the area. This volcano is over 600,000 years old and is often referred to as the Colossus of Guanacaste. For the past few years, the active crater trail has been closed due to constant volcanic activity. Hopefully in the near future, the volcanic activity will subside so this trail can be enjoyed once again! The Rincon de la Vieja volcano also has a dormant sister named Santa Maria. These two volcanos dominate the landscape. They speckle the park with craters, caverns, mud baths, saunas, and hot springs. No matter which of the trails you end up taking, you will not be disappointed.

Colorful bird in Rincón de la Vieja national park

Visiting the Rincon de la Vieja national park is easy! Less than one hour away from Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco, all on paved roads. The park is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00am to 3:00pm. It is always closed on Mondays. The price to enter is $17 for adults and $6 for children, unless you are a resident of Costa Rica it is only $4.00. this is one of the many advantages of owning property in Costa Rica and applying for residency. There is a visitor center with park rangers always present and available sanitary services. Make sure to wear good shoes and pack a hearty lunch and plenty to drink so you can spend the entire day taking in the beauty of this ecologically diverse paradise.

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Buy Land and Build in Costa Rica

Many people have the dream of building a tropical home on the beach or perched on a mountain top with views of the ocean.  Some want lots of acreage to spread out and feel “off-the-grid”, not having neighbors close by.  It can be a reality, and it’s not too hard to achieve, but you need to know the different kinds of property designations.

View of Playa Hermosa from a hillside building lot
Before I get in to the types of plots of land or building lots, let me say that there are many types. I will focus on the most common one. It is important to know the local municipality will actually set the high requirement. Some are setbacks from the boundaries, the maximum percentage of construction that is allowed based on land size and the use of the land, also called in Spanish “Uso de Suelo”. This should be part of any due diligence before actually closing sale on the property so you know what can be built.

Residential Lots There are a few different types of residential lots. Let’s get started here first. Many people that owned large pieces of land may have segregated or sub-divided the plot off of a bigger piece of land. These lots can be situated on public roads or a sometimes on an easement. These types of lots have to be a minimum of 350 square meters in order to build a home.

Home built on a lot in Costa Rica

A) “Horizontal Condominium lots”. These lots can be of any size however most are bigger than 350 square meters. Anyone who purchases in a “horizontal condominium” are required by law to adhere to the registered covenants and restrictions. This could include style of home, roof material retirements, monthly maintenance fees and so on. Horizontal condominium lots are always in a gated community and the roads within are private. These types of lots cannot be subdivided without 100% of the condominium association in agreement.

B) Then there are developments that have been set up under “agricultural” designation. Agricultural lots need to be, by law, a minimum of 5000 square meters, or 1.23 acres. With this type of lot, the roads in the development are easements, meaning that the road will actually pass-through another person’s property and vice versa. This will all be shown on the title of the deed and property registration as well as the registered lot survey or “Plano”.  Agricultural development land can be subdivided but only if the two new properties are still over 5000 square meters. Many developments were set up this way and most do have a home owners association to take care of the common areas and costs. By law, the main home on a agricultural lot can be a maximum of 300 square meters or 3229 square feet of construction.

Costa Rica Rainbow over a piece of agricultural land

C) Urbanization lots. This type of lot is segregated off of a bigger piece of property and the roads going through the development, or area, are public and anyone can drive on them. The size of these lots varies.

Farm land or “Fincas” – There are many large pieces of land for sale in Costa Rica. Heck you dive around and see signs on trees and fence posts declaring “Se Vende” or for sale. You see so many of them it makes you think the whole country is for sale. With large tracks of land usually over one “hectare” or 2.5 acres, you can build just about anything, but why over-build when you probably want the space. Again, as mentioned above, the local municipality will set the use of soil “Uso de Suelo”.
Important things to know – When you find the piece of land you want buy, and build on, one of the most important things I recommend is that you have a legal source of potable water.

Whether the water it is supplied by the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados or AyA (the Spanish acronym for the water authority of Costa Rica), a legally registered private well; or if the property is in a outlying areas, water supplied by a “ASAD. A Spanish acronym for Las Asociaciones administradoras de los Sistemas de Acueductos y Alcantarillados.  This is a legally registered local association that delivers water to properties via piping. Make sure you ask the attorney that is helping you purchase the property to verify all this during the due diligence period. Otherwise, it can be very costly.

When looking for a piece of land in Costa Rica and there are many beautiful spots to build the dream home, make sure you know what you are getting into before you actually close the sale.

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