The Hidden Market – For Limited Budget Buyers

March 17, 2018: This article is primarily about how to buy property in Costa Rica with a limited budget, which is a timeless topic. However, there are a few dated points regarding available properties as well as my referencing one of my Tico Times articles, which has been moved or removed. I’ve just submitted an … Read more

Is The Zone at the Tipping Point?

One of the screaming ocean views in the southern pacific zone of Costa Rica.

The place is packed. More and more people who bought land in the past are building or have built (and are happy about it.) Travel & Leisure put The Zone as the #1 place to visit for 2013. What the heck is going on?

I was invited to a house christening last night by Richard & Debby up at Costa Verde Estates. It was a small gathering, made up primarily of migrators, most of whom have just recently built a house or are in the process of doing so. I observed and heard some rather interesting indicators of a tipping point there.

One of the screaming ocean views in the southern pacific zone of Costa Rica.
Richard & Debby: Living the good life in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone. The view is partial, and is from their home in Costa Verde Estates.
  • numerous statements of an obvious love of Costa Rica and The Zone in particular
  • they were happy with their builder and the process was relatively smooth
  • comments about the resources now available to a home builder in Costa Rica
  • comments about how many people are talking about The Zone back home
  • comments on how many people there are vacationing in The Zone
  • how packed the hotels and vacation rentals are
  • guesses as to what the next 10 years are going to be like here
  • the reality (or not) of the international airport going into Palmar Sur (majority – NOT)
  • the effect of the highway being paved between Quepos and Dominical

There was a palpable feeling of “we are at the tipping point” here.

The facts that alcohol consumption

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Living Off The Grid In Costa Rica

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My business partner Ben likes to call them the “End of the World-ers”. People who have reason to believe there will be major global changes in the near future. They are interested in buying land and living off the grid in Costa Rica. By off the grid I’m referring to not being connected to the … Read more

Talk Show 16 – Construction

Even though we call it Talk Show 15, this is indeed the 16th Episode of the Guys In The Zone Talk Show. This episode delves into the topic of construction in Costa Rica. Ben, the founder of Guys In The Zone, interviews Matt Callero of Mango Construction (mangoconstruction.com). Matt offers some answers to the popular … Read more

Talk Show, Episode 13

This is our mid-year review of real estate in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica. With tourism numbers up 11% in Central America, Ben and Rod discuss how this trend points to a brighter future for The Zone. Costa Rica Real Estate – Talk Show 13 by GuysInTheZone

Million Dollar Homes in Costa Rica, Part 2

“Few people actually stumble into wealth.”
– Smith Barney (although I couldn’t determine if it was Mr. Smith or Mr. Barney?)

I outlined how million dollar houses fit into the Costa Rica real estate landscape, specifically in the southern Pacific zone (The Zone). There are a few obvious reasons to buy a luxury home in Costa Rica—

* It’s A Buyer’s Market (Prices are down approx. 50% from the peak in 2008.)
* Desirable Area (International Living Magazine rated The Zone as, “one of the top three real estate destinations in 2010.”)
* Stable Prices For Construction Materials And Labor

In Part One of this article,

The three-year Costa Rica real estate trend has reflected a significant drop in value, including property in the luxury home category.  Although there are some very nice million dollar homes in the area, this young market enables another popular strategy— Buy-And-Build.

 

Buy and Build

The majority of buyers who come down to the greater Dominical area with a plan to purchase a house, often end up purchasing raw land instead.  The reason is the area has a relatively small inventory of quality homes with floor plans and finishes that appeal to most North American and European home buyers.  So, they end up buy raw land or a lot in an established development, design their home with the help of a Costa Rican architect, select a builder, and then start the building process.

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Million Dollar Homes in Costa Rica, Part 1

In Northern California’s Bay Area, million dollar homes are very common.  They typically combine elements like— a desirable location, a large floorplan, upscale finishes, and/or estate-sized acreage.  My first position in real estate was in a beach area near Santa Cruz, and the power agent I worked for had no less than five million dollar listings when I joined her.  I just checked that broker’s website, and they currently have 307 houses listed between $1 million to $10 million.  Conversely, the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica has a young real estate market and million dollar houses are less common.

Luxury Estate in Escaleras, Costa Rica.

As recent as 2006, this area was considered the new frontier in Costa Rica.  Access was difficult and more exhaustive than it is now.  Developments were few and far between.  Then, the real estate boom hit.  This boom affected all aspects of real estate—raw land, developing, construction, rentals and associated services.  All of the key elements for million dollar homes—desirable location, sweeping ocean views, large building sites, and affordable construction—were easily realized for a relatively affordable price.

Let’s start with the land…

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“El Diquis” Hydroelectric Dam in Costa Rica

The Costanera Highway, The Caldera-San Jose Highway, The Cortez Hospital, The International Airport and The Diquis Hydroelectric Dam… it is easy to see that Costa Rica is serious about improving its infrastructure and securing a bright future.

Over the past decade, the dramatic increase in tourism and investment has sparked a bit of a power-struggle between proponents of economic growth and socio-environmental protection groups. In this case, the “power” is the proposed billion dollar hydroelectric project called “El Diquis” near Palmar in the Osa Peninsula. This isn’t recent news, but I believe it is worth mentioning as it will affect life in various ways in the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica.

Hydroelectric power is BIG in Costa Rica.

The Zone Is HOT

This large-scale project, facilitated by I.C.E. (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad), is calling for the construction of a dam on the Térraba River in the greater Boruca Canyon. The dam will create a lake equaling approximately 25,000 surface hectares (over 6 million acres), the largest of its kind in Central America.  By comparison, Lake Arenal is roughly 8,500 hectares.

This station will generate up to 630 megawatt units capable of providing over one million families with electricity!  This project is about Power, both electric and economic.  According to a Continuum report commissioned by the Costa Rican government,

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Costa Rica, A Hurricane-Free Zone

While browsing the storefronts of Quepos the other day, I saw this Hurricane History Map in an office window.  What caught my attention was how Costa Rica was completely free of any direct hurricane/tropical storm trajectories.  People ask us if we get hit by hurricanes, and now it’s nice to have a chart showing just how ideally located Costa Rica is, especially on the Pacific side.  Clearly, the vast majority of tropical storms and hurricanes are born in the oceans to the west and especially the east of Costa Rica, and then almost always track north.  In recent years, only Hurricane Cesar and Hurricane Mitch (1996 and 1998, respectively) traveled all the way across the Central America landmass.


Even though Costa Rica is Hurricane-free Zone, it still feels the effects of heavy rainfall from time to time.

During the hurricane season, June 1st – Nov. 30th, Costa Rica will occasionally feel the effects of these major hydro-meteorological events.  Tropical storms are more common than hurricanes in Costa Rica, and it is important to note that heavy rain isn’t the same as heavy rain AND 100+ mph winds!

According to this NASA webpage, “Tropical cyclones are like giant engines that use warm, moist air as fuel. That is why they form only over warm ocean waters near the equator.” The small towns in our area (e.g., Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal) are located at approximately nine degrees north of the equator.  The benefit of being at this latitude, and on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, is the wind is significantly lighter than along the Caribbean storm corridor where hurricane winds can rip off your roof.  I suppose that’s why the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan called the Pacific Ocean, Tepre Pacificum or “Peaceful Sea”.

What Does This Mean For Pacific Zone Residents and Investors?

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Interested in Costa Rica real estate as an investment. They primarily live somewhere else, but they own property in Costa Rica for the asset appreciation potential as well as possible rental income. Some just buy and hold (land-bank). For developed properties, the investor has a vacation home to visit as desired.

Migrators spend a regular amount of time in Costa Rica during each year.

Re-locators are those that are looking to move to Costa Rica from wherever they are. They will live full-time in Costa Rica.