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Owning Real Estate in Costa Rica; Why & How?

Costa Rica Real Estate – When the first baby boomer reached the retirement age of 60 in 2006, every 90 seconds after that, another baby boomer reaches the age of 60. After the first wave, an ensuing virtual tidal wave of graying, deep-pocketed soon to be retirees started desperately looking for some inexpensive piece of land with lots of sunshine, away from cold weather and their desolate, excessively regulated but floundering high-priced economy. We are not just talking about Americans in here but an international market of people including Germans, Canadians, Swedes, Britons and Asians all seeking for a piece of heaven in Costa Rica and everyone highly interested in trade, tourism and investment.  

costa rica real estateWhy own a property in Costa Rica? First and foremost, Costa Rica is considered to have one of the most attractive investment environment not just in Latin America but the whole world because its tax system is much simpler when compared to that of Canada, United States and Europe. It offers hefty tax incentives to foreign investors, entailing tax free transactions which greatly contributed to the country’s real estate market boom. It is also easy to live and work in Costa Rica because English is widely spoken, health care is top-notch and the government is intensely committed to protecting and enhancing its astounding natural environment. Furthermore, telecom improvements and fast internet service allows people to work on laptops and cell phone, use Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).  

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Can you get all these in other countries? Europe is too expensive and Asia is too far away so you can forget these two continents. In Latin America there is Panama but it is too hot in that country and the air conditioning bill can run into a hundred dollars per month, worse the crime is growing and it is being covered up to avoid scaring away the tourists. There is also Mexico which used to be the number one region for retirees but the country is under fire and being torn apart by war between opposing powerful factions, the government and drug cartels. Moreover, even though foreign nationals can buy and own fee simple properties in the interior of Mexico, the law prohibits them from holding title to properties that are inside the “Prohibited Zone” or areas along the coast and borders including the entire Baja, California, the only place in Mexico which can hold a candle to places in Costa Rica.  

Property Ownership and Other Common Forms of Possession 

In Costa Rica, you can get different types of properties just like in the US, Europe and Canada; you just have to understand and familiarize yourself to the types of properties you can purchase. It is not like Mexico where it is concession land, you actually own title to the property in Costa Rica.

Fee Simple 

This type of property ownership is the most compendious type of ownership in Costa Rica and the same rules apply to foreigners and locals. Fee simple ownership grants the property owner autonomous authority and right to materially own the property. This means that the owner can use, improve, lease, sell the property without interference from anyone or use the property as the owner see fit. Furthermore, if the property owner is hindered from exercising his or her rights to the property, then he or she has the right to restore the property to its previous original state. 

Concession Property and Maritime Zone Law 

Ninety five per cent of beachfront properties in Costa Rica are governed by the Maritime Zone Law, regulations by municipalities and Costa Rican Institute of Tourism making them concession properties. This includes the first 200 meters measured horizontally from the high tide line; the first 50 meters is considered a public area and cannot be owned by any individual while the next 150 meters are the ones available for concessions and can be leased to local and foreigners alike at a specific period of time. However, unlike Fee Simple ownership, foreigners need to enter a partnership with a Costa Rican national before they can own part of a concession property. Moreover, foreigners can only own 49 per cent of a concession property unless he or she has resided in Costa Rica for five years or more.  


This type of ownership is governed by Condominium Law which provides particular benefits to developers of different kinds of properties like single family resident projects, condos, completed lot projects and more. This means that the developer is allowed to make restrictions and add regulations on certain phases of the development. Properties in Condominiums are like Fee Simple ownership, only it comes with a few limitations so it is imperative that you get a copy of the by-laws for guidelines, restrictions and limitations set forth by the developer.  

Untitled Property 

Not all properties in Costa Rica are recorded at the Public Registry of Properties. An untitled property is to be avoided at all cost as there is no way that the ownership can be proven.  

Time Share 

Time-share ownership is very similar to properties in condominiums in that the owner can make certain stipulations, only with time-share the owner can only put the restrictions in place for a certain period of time during the year. However, this type is very uncommon in Costa Rica.  

Get Your Free Copy of “Secrets of Buying Real Estate in Costa Rica”

Property Ownership Types Is the Property Really for Sale?  What is the Maritime Zone?  Myths About Squatters  Construction, Architects & Engineers  Purchasing Under a Corporation  Financing

And so much more……..


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