Foreigners can buy real estate in Costa Rica and own a piece of paradise!
Every year, about 2.5 million tourists and visitors touch down in Costa Rica, the beautiful tropical Central American nation, many of them from the U.S. and Canada. Whether they stay for mere days or weeks on end, they often want to find a way to spend a lot more time in Costa Rica.
In fact, a good number of North Americans end up transitioning to Costa Rica, retiring, opening a business, spending cold weather months in the warm, inviting climes, or even moving down south permanently.
Moving down to Costa Rica and renting is one thing, but when it comes to actually buying that idyllic seaside condo or breezy villa nestled in the mountains, foreigners face a lot of uncertainty. You should have lots of questions, but also vast potential for one of the best investments of your life – both financially and in your future health and happiness.
Foreigners should exercise extreme caution when buying property in Costa Rica, doing their homework and using an English-speaking multinational real estate agent and guide who can help them navigate through the sometimes-complex laws.
But here is the good news: foreigners can own real estate in Costa Rica free and clear. Looking back, many expats and Costa Rica lovers say that buying a property in paradise was the smartest thing they ever did.
Here are the 5 most common questions I hear from foreigners who want to buy real estate in Costa Rica:
1. Are property ownership laws different for foreigners and Costa Rica citizens?
The amazing thing about real estate in Costa Rica is that foreigners and locals have exactly the same rights and follow the same laws – which presents a rare and unique opportunity for foreign investors.
In fact, property ownership is protected by the Costa Rican constitution. You don’t even need to live in Costa Rica to buy property or own land – you can buy and own outright with a tourist visa.
2. Do I need a Costa Rican business partner to own land in Costa Rica?
Not for the vast majority of property sales, however, there is one possibility where this would be a requirement, which I cover in detail in the full Moving to Costa Rica Handbook.
3. Should I buy property under my own name, or form a corporation to hold title?
You can hold a title under your own name. However, it’s recommended you look into acquiring property through a corporation (also called a Holding Company), which will give you plenty of legal benefits. Holding the property in this corporation will reduce your potential personal liability, help the closing procedure, and allow for easier sale, transfer, or mortgage in the future, as well as ease the process of registering for utilities like electricity, water, etc.
4. Can foreigners own real estate on the beach?
Pay attention to these clear restrictions and specific regulations.
Here’s how it works:
• No one can own property within 50 meters of the ocean (measured horizontally from the high tide line), which is public domain and protected by the Costa Rican government
• Property located past those first 50 meters but within 200 meters from the median high tide mark is in the Maritime Terrestrial Zone and called Concession property
• You can develop Concession property, but it requires a special grant from the local municipality
• Within this Concession property, native Costa Ricans do hold advantages and special rights over foreigners. For instance, non-resident foreigners can own up to 49% of leased beach property, but the remaining 51% must be owned by a Costa Rican citizen, resident, or corporation.
• These rules apply both on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
• While this may seem complex, there are plenty of mutually beneficial arrangements that aid foreigners in safely and profitably investing in ocean front real estate in Costa Rica, especially condominiums and other similar projects.
5. How can I finance my Costa Rican purchase?
It’s possible to get a mortgage loan with a Costa Rican bank, but most foreigners upon looking into the arduous process and mountains of paperwork decide to pursue other avenues for financing. It’s just simply usually ends up being too hard to qualify, it can take months before a decision is rendered, and the banks charge exorbitant fees by U.S. and Canadian standards.
An interesting side note: one of the reasons why Costa Rica is so stable is because their banking system doesn’t recklessly or easily lend money – something the U.S. could learn from!
But there is a way to finance your real estate purchase in Costa Rica quickly, affordably, and surprisingly simply!
Just purchase the Moving to Costa Rica Handbook and check out our comprehensive section on buying and financing property in Costa Rica.
Or, feel free to email me if you have ANY questions about purchasing real estate in Costa Rica - I'm happy to help!
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