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Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica Is A Popular Destination for Those Looking for a

Second Home

Costa Rica has been one of the most popular retirement, and/or second home, destinations for Americans abroad.  Some of the most popular areas include the beaches in the Northern, Central and Southern Pacific areas, as well as the temperate climates of the Central Valley. 

A trip to Costa Rica requires only a two-hour plane ride from the Southern tip of the United States, allowing investors to visit and inspect their second homes regularly, as well as stay in touch with family and friends back home.  In addition to the country's natural beauty, Costa Rican property and development costs are remarkably lower than in the United States, and return on investments are higher.  Costa Rica's appeal as a second-home destination is even greater today:  For the first time since real estate began skyrocketing five or six years ago, prices have softened," says Barry Golson, author of Retirement Without Borders: How to Retire Abroad. "With gorgeous jungle, mountain and beach landscapes, Costa Rica continues to set the tourism pace in Central America."                In July 2009, CNN announced: "Forget Disneyland! Costa Rica is the happiest place in the world"    With all these factors in play, it is no surprise that the country has boomed as a choice for second homes.  

And while growth slowed in 2009, preliminary numbers show that growth in 2010 was about 9.2%, returning to 2008 tourism levels.  Costa Rica put eco- and adventure tourism on the map.
Why should I buy my second home in Costa Rica?
Here are our top 3 reasons
3. Because it's easy to travel to Costa Rica: North Americans & most Europeans do not need a visa, credit cards (& the U.S. dollar) are widely accepted, the water is potable, it is extremely family-friendly and it's close enough that your family will visit you, but far enough away that they won't be there every weekend. There are direct flights to San Jose airport from 10 North American airports, making family visits almost as easy as going to a Florida or California beach destination.
2. Because of the excellent healthcare available in Costa Rica: More than 36, 000 people travel to Costa Rica annually for medical treatments, dental work or plastic surgery. All of the private hospitals are accredited and their fees are extremely reasonable compared to North American fees for the same procedures.
1. Because purchasing real estate in Costa Rica is very easy & safe: You can make your purchase through your retirement account or with local financing. Title insurance is available through North American title companies. Also, regardless of your nationality the Costa Rican government gives you the same rights and protections as the citizens of Costa Rica. 
There are many other reasons - here are three more!
3. Because Costa Rica is considered the "Switzerland of Central America." Costa Rica is stable, peaceful & democratic. Costa Rica is one of the 22 oldest democracies and abolished its army in 1949, funneling money normally spent on defense into education. Click here for more information about Costa Rica's government.
2. Because you will never run out of things to do. There is an endless list of activities to keep you occupied in Costa Rica. There are plenty of watersports- from surfing to diving to deep sea fishing (and everything in between). Other popular activities in are ecotours, birding, golf, horseback riding, yoga & spa treatment. This is just the tip of the iceberg, click here for more information about activities in Costa Rica.
1. Because of the exceptional quality of life in Costa Rica. You've likely heard somewhere that Costa Rica is ranked the Happiest Place on Earth. The Pura Vida lifestyle translates to a population of happy, laid back, stress-free people. This is way of life is contagious- just spending time in Costa Rica and adapting to their way of life has a positive effect on your well-being.  

Known for tropical animals and exotic landscapes, Costa Rica beach properties are an ideal setting for a second home and no province is as hot for part-timers as Guanacaste on the northwest Pacific coast.

Christopher Howard explains where

Costa Rica’s best beaches are for retirement and living

sunset on dominical beach

Sunset on Dominical Beach

If you are beach person, then Costa Rica is definitely worthy of consideration for where to retire.

The Central American country is famous for its beautiful tropical beaches and boasts nearly 800 miles of coastline stretching along two oceans. The temperature of the oceans is typically warm, so you can stay in the water all day long.

There are many white- and dark-sand beaches and numerous resorts along the Pacific coast. In Guanacaste province to the north, and on the Nicoya Peninsula, unspoiled beaches abound. Moving south along the Central and Southern Pacific is Puntarenas, affectionately known as “El puerto” (now a blue flag beach), Playa Herradura, Playa Jacó, Playa Hermosa, Esterillos, Quepos, Manuel Antonio (considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica), Playa Dominical and beaches like Uvita and Playa Ventanas.

On the Caribbean coast, which is not as expansive as the Pacific, Cahuita and Puerto Viejo stand out.

The most important factors in choosing a beach area for living are lifestyle, budget and the proximity to services and healthcare.

Since there are so many drop-dead gorgeous beach areas, it was difficult to make a choice, but this is what I came up with. As we say in Spanish, “Va a penales” — because, as in soccer, the score was tied.  

1. Playa Jacó and Herradura

Miro Mountain lookout in Jacó
Lookout from Miro Mountain's abandoned building in Jacó. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico Times

People either love or hate Jacó. One big advantage to living here is the location, only an hour and one half from the western suburbs of San José. This is an advantage if you need to visit one of the capital’s private or public hospitals, attend an entertainment venue or do some shopping. Jacó has an incredible selection of restaurants and activities to stay busy and happy. There is also a thriving, tightly-knit expat community. Los Sueños, located in Herradura Bay just to the north, boasts a beautiful hotel, pricey condos and Los Sueños Marina.

2. Dominical and environs

A surfer rides a wave off the shores of Playa Dominical in Costa Rica's Southern Pacific. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

This area, known as the “Whale Coast” (Costa Ballena), stretches from Playa Dominical to the hamlet of Ojochal and is a true tropical paradise. Dominical is often referred to as the Big Sur of Costa Rica, since its precipitous mountains come right down to the sea and are reminiscent of the famous Central California coastline. The surrounding verdant mountains are teeming with animal life, have spectacular waterfalls, and are dotted with stunning homes with have-to-be-seen panoramic views. 

Nearby Playa Ventanas gets its name from its five caves which resemble windows. During the low tide, you can actually walk through them, and at high tide see the waves breaking inside. The town of Ojochal is famous for some the best gourmet dinning in Costa Rica. Many retired expats call this area home. 

The only real drawbacks are that good shopping is located about 45 minutes away in the town of San Isidro de El General, and the two major public hospitals serving this area are about 20 miles to the south in Puerto Cortés or 40 minutes inland at San Isidro.

3. Sámara and Carrillo

Sámara Beach at night
Sámara Beach at night Andrés Madrigal

For retirees who don’t like resort areas, crowds or large developments like Tamarindo (sometimes referred to as Tamagringo because of the number of U.S. citizens there), Sámara might just be the right choice. Located in Guanacaste province, Sámara has small beach-town feel with one main street and a brown-sand beach with relatively calm surf. There are some retired expats residing in the area. 

Carrillo is a crescent-shaped beach located few kilometers to the south, with whitish sand, rows of palm trees and calm waves for safe swimming. Amazingly, this beach has resisted development and is considered by many to be one of the best in Costa Rica. Instead of the condos and homes along the shore like Costa Rica’s most popular coastal destinations, you’ll see nothing but a beautiful, pristine beach. This is one of my favorite beaches where I have spent many vacations.

Both Samara and Carrillo are not as “gringo-ized” (agringado) as Nosara, about 20 miles to the north.

4. Manual Antonio/ Quepos

Sunset over Manuel Antonio beach
Sunset over Manuel Antonio beach. Nate Doughty / The Tico Times

Located about three hours from the Central Valley, this area has a sizable expat community. Quepos has a small-town feeling, offers good shopping and a public hospital. Many of the foreigners I have met run small businesses like boutique hotels, restaurants, bars, and tour companies. Much like Jacó to the north, this area is perfect for outdoor types with a plethora of almost every imaginable activity. Sport fishermen will love the new Pez Vela Marina.

Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most-visited in Costa Rica, and its white-sand beaches are simply gorgeous.  The are scores of restaurants found here cater to expats and tourists. Some of the most incredible sunsets in the world can be seen from hotels and restaurants perched in the hills high above the ocean.

5.  Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo
The Tico Times visited Puerto Viejo in January 2019 as part of our Deep Dive to the region. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)

This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the Caribbean side of the country. Located off the beaten track, this formerly sleepy little fishing village has become popular with foreigners and locals in recent years. However, Puerto Viejo still retains its laid-back ambiance and definitely has a Caribbean feel with restaurants, bars, and shops conveniently located next to the beach. To the south are Playa Punta Uva, and Manzanillo, both of which are worth checking out. 

There are a handful of retired expats living here, but the major drawback is the distance from the Central Valley and its amenities. The four-hour trip from to or from Puerto Viejo to the Central Valley includes a tortuous and often hair-raising half-hour drive through a mountainous rainforest that is not for the faint of heart.

Note: There are a couple of small beach towns near the tip of the Nicoya peninsula like Malpaís, Santa Teresa and Montezuma, which may be ideal for those who really want to get away from it all.

And don't forget aboutTamarindo:

Costa Rica Beaches - Tamarindo

Tamarindo is among the most popular vacation destinations in Costa Rica!

If you are looking for a destination that has the perfect mix of touristy things to do and beautiful Costa Rican beaches, then Tamarindo is where you need to be. The area has become pretty developed over the years, but not so much that it is overrun with large hotels and chain restaurants. s..

It is a very accessible town (less than 1 hour from Liberia's international airport), with great sport fishing and golf courses. In the town of Tamarindo you can find many things to do both day and night. There are several bakeries, coffee places, an outdoor vegetable market, art galleries, beauty spas and more than 50 restaurants, bars and discos with cuisines to suit every taste. It also hosts an excellent variety of hotels, from economy to luxury. 

Have you ever considered surfing?   This small former fishing village has long been a tourist magnet popular with surfers. Surfing, an exotic and aerobic pastime, is at its prime in Tamarindo. Burn calories while you learn to master the waves! The unique coastline of Tamarindo offers varying wave intensities perfect for the beginner through advanced surfers. Breaks all along Tamarindo are available to choose your own difficulty level from three different beaches. 

  The area is also home to the Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge, where visitors from around the world come to watch (supervised) leatherback turtles lay eggs.  Female Leatherback Turtles, the largest living of all sea turtles, come to Tamarindo each year between November and April to dig their nests and lay their eggs. The female turtle will dig a nest up to one meter deep, lay her eggs and then back fill the nest to prevent predators from uncovering her offspring. Two to three months later, the baby turtles emerge, dashing to the shore and hoping to evade predators.  It is absolutely fascinating, and if you have never seen it, you don't know what you are missing. 

Tamarindo is also well known for its underwater masterpieces. Snorkeling is highly popular and widely recommended.  Beneath the water’s surface lies a universe of color and wonder.

Besides surfing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, jet skiing, horseback riding and scuba diving, you can visit the nearby wildlife refuge of Diriá, as well as the Marino Las Baulas National Park.  And daily tours are available to other fun and interesting destinations such as the Palo Verde National Park and Rincon de la Vieja National Park   .



Other Favorite Beaches:

Playa Hermosa: The setting of the Billabong 2009 ISA World Surfing Games, Playa Hermosa is no stranger to the surf scene. Experienced surfers will love the pounding surf at any of the 7 surf points along the six mile shoreline. For the novice, we recommend grabbing a table at one of the beachfront restaurants to watch the pros do their thing!

Playa Palo Seco: Less known Palo Seco a little further south is located between the Pacific ocean and the Palo Seco Estuary. A quiet expanse of beach, where from August through November you can see baby turtles hatching!
Playa Bejuco & Playas Esterillos: Head out to enjoy some surfing or a nice long walk on miles of virtually deserted beach. Playa Bejuco is known for its pure, unaltered beauty. There are 3 sections of Esterillos- Este (east), Centro (central) and Oeste (west) all of which are known for their delightful palm-
fringed coast and black sand.
Costa Rica Real Estate-Homes-Retirement-Investment 

 Another Costa Rica Blue Flag Beach - Playa Bejuco


All information presented here and in these sites is proposed and is subject to change or elimination by the Owner or Developer at any time without notice. The questions and answers on this website are for informational purposes only. All questions and answers proposed are subject to any change without any notice. 

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