A Guide to Buying Property in Costa Rica for Foreign Buyers
One of the happiest and healthiest places on earth, Costa Rica is home to one of the world’s few “Blue Zones” and regularly tops the world’s Happy Planet Index. Little wonder its property market has drawn buyers from around the world.
If you are currently considering investing in real estate in Costa Rica but you are wondering “where are the best places to buy property in Costa Rica?” or “how do I go about owning property in Costa Rica as a foreign buyer” then this guide is for you.
Our guide takes you through the process of buying property in Costa Rica from beginning to end, including an introduction to the real estate market, the buying process and the taxes you will need to be aware of.
Overview – The Costa Rica Real Estate Market
With beautiful beaches and stunning mountains, Costa Rica offers the best of laid back tropical living with the benefits of contemporary comforts. A stable democracy with one of the most prosperous economies in Latin America, this Central American country which is sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua is progressive, friendly and welcoming. Education and health care are also both affordable and high quality. It’s no surprise then that Costa Rica ranked #1 in the global Happy Planet Index.
Across 4 mountain ranges, 800 miles of coastline and hundreds of national parks, Costa Rica also contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. The alluring combination of landscape and lifestyle attracted a record 3 million tourists to Costa Rica in 2018, representing a 1.9% increase on the previous year. The country also attracts property buyers in droves, including a large proportion from the USA. Real estate for sale in Costa Rica includes condos and homes in beach and golf resorts, as well as magnificent luxury properties tucked away in the mountains overlooking the sea.
Buying Property in Costa Rica
Can foreigners buy property in Costa Rica?
Yes, foreigners can buy property in Costa Rica and the Government of Costa Rica welcomes investment from overseas buyers. There are no restrictions on foreign buyers acquiring real estate in Costa Rica except for beachfront concession property (the first 200 meters from the high tide mark). Property located in the “50-meter zone” (the first 50 meters) is considered public property. Property located in the “150-meter zone” (the next 150 meters of land) is typically owned by the relevant municipality. Property in the “150-meter zone” can be leased by concession for up to 20 years (with the option to renew thereafter) but requires a Costa Rican national to own more than 50%, except in Tamarindo and Potrero where almost all beachfront land after the first 50-meters is titled and available for purchase.
Buying property in Costa Rica is a relatively simple process, which typically involves the following steps:
- Begin your property search.
- Find your perfect property and make an offer.
- Once you have made an offer on a property via a Letter of Intent, and that offer has been accepted, a Sale and Purchase Agreement will be drafted.
- Following a period of due diligence, closing takes place before a Notary Public.
- Pay all required taxes and fees.
Buyers are responsible for paying a Transfer Tax of 1.5% of the purchase price, plus their own legal fees of 1-2%.
There is also an annual Property Tax of 0.25% of the property value due on a quarterly or annual basis, as well as an annual Luxury Tax of 0.1% – 0.25% (on homes valued over $200,000) depending on property size and features.
Search Costa Rica Real Estate Listings
As specialists in luxury Caribbean property, we can introduce you to a wide selection of the finest residential property in Costa Rica.
Homes for Sale & Condos for Sale
Land for Sale
You can also browse undeveloped land. Purchasing a lot of land provides you with a blank canvas and the opportunity to build your dream home in Costa Rica.
Whether you are looking for beachfront land or a centrally located lot, we’re here to help you find the perfect lot of land for sale in Costa Rica.
For larger parcels of land for commercial development, please see our commercial real estate listings.
Hotels for Sale
Searching for hotels for sale in Costa Rica? Browse hotels, B&Bs and guests houses right here.
Finding the Perfect Property for Sale in Costa Rica
Discover the most sought after real estate investment opportunities and benefit from unrivaled insight into the market.
To find your perfect property in Costa Rica, search our Costa Rica real estate listings.
Best Places to Buy Property in Guanacaste
Discover Guanacaste – Read our guide to Guide to Guanacaste Real Estate.
Discover Hacienda Pinilla – Read our guide to Guide to Hacienda Pinilla Real Estate.
Discover Las Catalinas – Read our guide to Guide to Las Catalinas Real Estate.
Discover Papagayo – Read our guide to Guide to Papagayo Real Estate.
Discover Tamarindo – Read our guide to Guide to Tamarindo Real Estate.
Discover Playa Flamingo – Read our guide to Guide to Playa Flamingo Real Estate.
Best Places to Buy Property in Puntarenas
Discover Puntarenas – Read our guide to buying property in Puntarenas.
Discover Dominical – Read our guide to buying property in Dominical.
Discover Jaco – Read our guide to buying property in Jaco.
Discover Manuel Antonio – Read our guide to buying property in Manuel Antonio.
Discover Osa Peninsula – Read our guide to buying property in Osa Peninsula.
Discover Playa Bejuco – Read our guide to buying property in Playa Bejuco.
Discover Punta Leona – Read our guide to buying property in Punta Leona.
Discover Uvita – Read our guide to buying property in Uvita.
Best Places to Buy Property in San Jose
Discover Escazu – Read our guide to buying property in Escazu.
Discover San Jose – Read our guide to buying property in San Jose.
Discover Santa Ana – Read our guide to buying property in Santa Ana.
Best Places to Buy Property in the Rest of Costa Rica
Discover Alajuela – Read our guide to buying property in Alajuela.
Discover Cartago – Read our guide to buying property in Cartago.
Discover Heredia – Read our guide to buying property in Heredia.
Discover La Garita – Read our guide to buying property in La Garita.
Discover Limon – Read our guide to buying property in Limon.
Costa Rica Residency
How long can a foreign citizen stay in Costa Rica?
Citizens of countries including the USA, Canada, UK, the EU and most countries in the Caribbean and South America are permitted to remain in Costa Rica for up to 90 days without a visa under a tourist waiver.
How do I become a resident of Costa Rica?
Costa Rica offers several temporary residency programmes, all of which do not permit participants to work in Costa Rica and require renewal every 2 years:
- Pensionado (Retiree) – requires a minimum monthly income of $1,000 per couple from Social Security or a government guaranteed pension.
- Rentista (Renter) – requires a minimum income of $2,500 per month for a minimum of 2 years from investments guaranteed by a banking institution or a $60,000 deposit in a bank in Costa Rica.
- Investionista (Investor) – requires a minimum investment of $200,000 in a business or property in Costa Rica.
After 3 years as a lawful temporary resident, you can apply for permanent residency in Costa Rica.
How do I become a citizen of Costa Rica?
Financially self-sufficient individuals who have lawfully resided in Costa Rica for 5 years (in the case of citizens of other Central American countries, Spain or Latin America) or 7 years (in the case of all other nationalities) are permitted to apply for citizenship by naturalization.
Sending Money to Costa Rica
You could save money when investing in Costa Rica real estate by using a foreign exchange expert to get the best rate for your property purchase. We have partnered with Halo Financial, a specialist in foreign exchange, to help you get the best exchange rates when making one-off or regular international payments for a property purchase in Costa Rica. To see how you could save money, read more: Foreign Exchange.
How to Get to Costa Rica
There are direct international flights to Costa Rica from the USA, Canada, Mexico and various cities in Central America.
From North America fly from Houston, Miami, New York or Toronto to Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría with AA, Delta, United and US Airways.
There are also international flights to Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste.
From Central and South America fly direct from Caracas, Guatemala City, Mexico City, Panama City or San Salvador.
Houston to Costa Rica: 3 hours 45 mins
Mexico City to Costa Rica: 2 hours 28 mins
Miami to Costa Rica: 2 hours 50 mins
New York to Costa Rica: 5 hours 10 mins
Panama City to Costa Rica: 39 mins
Toronto to Costa Rica: 5 hours 30 mins