The Insider's Guide to Buying Property in Costa Rica

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 thinking about whether to invest 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.

Aerial view of a beautiful beach in Costa Rica Woman on a beach in Costa Rica

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 is ranked first 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 and spectacular volcanoes, rainforests and cloud forests, waterfalls and rivers. The lifestyle is equally alluring. Enjoy some of the best surfing conditions in the world, as well as rafting, windsurfing, diving, kayaking and fishing.

Unspoiled nature, endless adventure and high quality real estate (at attractive prices) come together to create one of the region’s most popular overseas property investment locations. Costa Rica has developed one of the region’s more mature second homes markets, which is particularly popular with buyers from the USA. Real estate for sale in Costa Rica ranges from condos and villas in beach and golf resorts, to magnificent luxury estates overlooking the ocean and hideaway homes tucked away in the forest-covered hills.

“Unspoiled nature, endless adventure and high quality real estate (at attractive prices) come together to create one of the region’s most popular overseas property investment locations”

Why Invest?

1 / 7

Stunningly beautiful landscape with 800 miles of beautiful beaches and pristine forests covering one quarter of the country.

2 / 7

Safe and secure country which is politically and economically stable.

3 / 7

Affordable destination with a fantastic quality of life.

4 / 7

Well established and growing real estate market which can offer home owners substantial rental income generating potential.

5 / 7

Investor-friendly environment with a welcoming residency program.

6 / 7

High quality health care system.

7 / 7

Easily accessible via direct flights from the US, Canada, UK and Europe into 3 international airports.

Buying Process, Fees & Taxes

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 process

Buying property in Costa Rica is a relatively simple process, which typically involves the following steps:

  1. Begin your property search.
  2. Find your perfect property and make an offer.
  3. 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.
  4. Following a period of due diligence, closing takes place before a Notary Public.
  5. Pay all required taxes and fees.
Fees & taxes

Transfer Tax

Buyers are responsible for paying a Transfer Tax of 1.5% of the purchase price, plus their own legal fees of 1-2%.

Property Tax

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.

Residency & Citizenship

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 you become a resident of Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers several residency programs, all of which provide a pathway to temporary residency in Costa Rica and require renewal every 2 years:

  • ‘Pensionado’ Visa – requires a minimum monthly income of US $1,000 per couple from Social Security or a government guaranteed pension.
  • ‘Rentista’ Visa – requires a minimum income of US $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.
  • ‘Inversionista’ Visa – requires a minimum investment of US $200,000 in a property or business in Costa Rica.

After 3 years as a lawful temporary resident, you can apply for permanent residency in Costa Rica.

Find out more: Retire in Costa Rica

How do you 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.

Mortgages in Costa Rica

Looking for financing to fund the purchase of property in Costa Rica?

Contrary to popular misconception, it is possible for foreign nationals looking to invest in Costa Rica real estate to apply for a mortgage.

Our partner – a very well respected international financial organization – offers mortgages for qualifying non-residents buying, building or improving a second home in Costa Rica.

For more information, see our page on: Caribbean mortgages.

How to get a mortgage in the Caribbean

How to Get There

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.

  • Miami to Costa Rica 2h 50m
  • Houston to Costa Rica 3h 45m
  • New York to Costa Rica 5h 10m
  • Toronto to Costa Rica 5h 30m

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Local weather

18° Precipitacion0.1%
Wed 16° | 25°
Thu 16° | 26°
Fri 16° | 27°
Sat 14° | 28°
Sun 15° | 28°
Mon 16° | 28°
Tue 17° | 28°

Local time

9:55AM Wednesday 22nd Mar 2023 (CST)
Wed 16° | 25°
Thu 16° | 26°
Fri 16° | 27°
Sat 14° | 28°
Sun 15° | 28°
Mon 16° | 28°
Tue 17° | 28°

Fast facts

  • Population 5
  • Capital San José
  • Language Spanish
  • Currency Costa Rican Colón
  • Time zone GMT-6 | ET