A New-ish Strategy on Investing/Developing

Costa Rica – 1999:

The year that I arrived here with my family. There just weren’t that many Gringos, or foreigners of any flavor really, in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone. Many of the foreigners that were here shared a similar idea. Land was so cheap that you could buy several hectares (one hectare = 2.47 acres) of land, cut off a piece, and sell it for nearly what you put into the whole piece. I used to call this “The Costa Rican Formula”.

Costa Rica at Sunset
Highly Desirable Lifestyle

If you think back over any real estate cycle anywhere on planet earth, lets say San Francisco, or Denver, it started out with families owning large tracts of essentially valueless land.  Governments typically gave land away at this stage of the cycle.  Homesteading laws had some rather liberal restrictions that, if followed, enabled a family to take possession of the large tract of land.  These families then used the land to live on and sustain themselves.

Costa Rica real estate was in that part of the “the cycle” a surprisingly short while ago.

I say this to help establish the paradigm here.  We are early in the cycle.  The majority of my career has been selling raw, undeveloped land.  To this day there isn’t a large selection of houses, but there are getting to be more all the time.  We are simply heading into that phase of the cycle.

“The Costa Rican Formula” is the obvious way to develop and make money on land.  Buy a larger piece, cut it into smaller pieces and sell them.  It is so obvious in fact that it enjoys a very brief period of the real estate growth cycle.

For the purpose of this article, I’m not writing about big developers that buy and develop large parcels. I’m referring to your normal joe, back in the day, slopping into an 8-ish acre piece of land.  Then, they find out that they can cut off 3 of those 8 acres and bahdah-bing bahdah-boom, they own their 5 remaining acres for free.

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Relocation – Surviving the Transition Financially

Are you an entrepreneur who wants to relocate in Costa Rica? Many of you have ideas of what you would like to do but you don’t know if it is feasible. Do you buy a well-priced piece of real estate then develop it to your liking? Or, do you buy a turnkey business in one of the small towns of the Southern Pacific Zone (SPZ)? Those are two questions The Guys In The Zone are asked often, and I thought I would shed a little light on the possibilities.

Buy land, build structure, announce grand opening.


Relocators who lean toward the Buy & Build model are the most common brand of investor. Rarely, does the building process go perfectly smooth especially if you are a “first timer” in Costa Rica. Even with a good contractor, we encourage most owners to be on-site often. In fact, the more you can be there to answer questions and provide direction, the better. There’s nothing worse than flying down to check on the status of your building only to discover the size of your custom kitchen and bathroom have been interchanged?! If you follow this advice and move down to oversee the building process, then there are the obvious costs associated with living here (rent, bills, food, gas, etc.). However, this increases your chances to end up with the small (or large) business you always dreamed of. I have attended a few “Grand Openings” in the past few years, and most owners smile with pride, albeit with a touch of fatigue.

Most of our commercial land sellers are open to negotiating price and/or carrying paper (seller financing) as long as there is a significant down payment. Currently, we have excellent “raw land” properties that can accommodate businesses ranging from a small hotel-restaurant and one of the best “large commercial” pieces on the Costanera.

Or, buy a landmark!

surf-shop.jpgUntil just recently there were very few businesses to buy in the SPZ. Over the past five years, the ticos and early bird gringos have successfully

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Do You Have to be Rich to Buy Land In Costa Rica?

I received the below e-mail last week and have been working with “Jim” (name is changed to protect…).  His situation is one that I think a lot of folks will be able to relate to.

Reading through your blog it appears that purchasing a home or property in the southern zone is now just for the wealthy. Those who have 5 or 6 other houses and for which one more is just another investment. There are those of us who would like to make Costa Rica our new home and leave the corporate hassles behind. We just may not have the $300K – $1M in cash for such a move. What do you recommend for those of us who are a little ahead in the US real estate game and are looking for a quiet, secluded, place to raise some fruit, veggies, etc. and settle down?

Money in Hand

Nicely put, and meaty. I wrote back:

I hate to do this to you, but I’m going to answer your question with some questions. Nearly all of our deals here are cash deals. What amount of cash

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