I covered the basics of renting an apartment or home with a long-term lease earlier, but I wanted to touch on another important aspect of the rental market you’ll find in Costa Rica: vacation property.
Even if you’re not an expat who’s moving down to Costa Rica and settling in permanently, vacationers and tourists find that renting an apartment, house, or vacation property is a great alternative to hotels and resorts. It’s less expensive, more private, more personal, more spacious, and with all the comforts of home.
There are several things to take into consideration to make sure you get renting right. Let’s dive right in with some great tips to help you find your perfectly pura vida vacation property!
Although we’ve lumped info about short and long-term stays alike here, you’ll notice that a lot of this information is geared towards vacation rentals.
Start with some Internet research (but double check)
Visiting one, or several, of the many useful vacation rental sites on the Internet, is a great way to start the process of renting vacation property in Costa Rica. They’re often well organized and will help you narrow down the areas that are most appealing to you. But remember – PHOTOS OFTEN LIE or misrepresent the property or beachfront, just like at hotels. So it’s best to double and triple check as you browse online, then contact an honest, informed local expert to arrange the booking.
Once you’ve chosen a vacation destination, it’s time to find a place to stay
When searching for a vacation rental home, it’s best to comparison shop. Keep your options open and consider several different rental properties to give you a variety of places to choose from, as well as a variety of prices and available amenities. Compare properties to get a local baseline.
The early bird catches the best property
Remember that the busiest tourists season in Costa Rica is during the best weather holiday months of December, January or February. Many regular vacationers book a year in advance, so it’s never too early to start looking. In many parts of Costa Rica, like Playa Jacó, you’ll find creatures of habit that will rent the same house for the same block of time year in year out, especially waterfront properties. For the largest selection, start early and be sure to ask about early booking discounts. Sometimes you’ll find that in exchange for the security of having their property rented, an owner and agent will offer a good discount.
Patience pays off
In the most popular vacation destinations like Playa Jacó and Tamarindo, supply outweighs demand for most of the year outside of the busiest three months. For this reason, the closer the high season gets, the more agents and owners are scrambling to fill houses. If you’re flexible about your dates and amenities, you can find significant savings on your vacation rental by searching at the last minute. Just don’t get your heart set on a particular property and remember that this is a game of risk vs. reward.
Remember that long-term rentals in the Central Valley around San José are easier to come by and available year-round, while properties on the beach owners tend to be hit or miss depending on the peak travel seasons.
Read the fine print
Before making a rental commitment, be sure you understand what it involves. Start looking as far in advance of departure as possible so that you can absorb all the nitty-gritty about terms and rules, physical layout, furnishings, cleaning and repair services (if any). Also pay attention to local transportation, proximity to services that you need, financial arrangements and obligations, deposits, liability and property insurance, and the like. Doing so will minimize your risk of unpleasant surprises when you arrive and when it’s far too late to back out.
Check the amenities
Whether you’ll be staying at the property for two days or two weeks, you want to make sure that you’ll have all the amenities you want and need. And the only way you’ll know is if you ask. More is better in this case, and owners will be happy to provide information and photos to anyone seriously considering their rental home.
Many vacation rental sites now offer reviews and feedback from past guests. Read these reviews carefully and reach out to the homeowner about any follow-up questions, as the owner may have fixed any problems or changed processes as a result of a negative review. Reviews are such a useful tool when searching for your ideal vacation property rental in Costa Rica. Past renters can paint a pretty clear picture of what a guest experience is truly like – the good, the bad and the ugly. In addition to looking at photos and chatting with the owners, it’s the most surefire way to guarantee that you’re picking a good place to stay.
How about advice specifically for expats who want to rent?
Like I’ve mentioned adamantly before, be careful about jumping into purchasing real estate when you first get there. Rent for a while and take your time. Be patient, as it’s best to try a number of places if you are okay with moving every couple of months.
Is it furnished?
Places come both furnished and unfurnished. Keep in mind that unfurnished may mean that there is no refrigerator or washer and dryer, and conversely furnished may also include linens, dishes, etc.
Will your rent go up?
According to Costa Rican law, if you rent for as little as six months, your landlord is prohibited from raising your rent for the next three years, even when renting to foreigners (does not apply to short- term, vacation rentals).
In addition to utilities, the Internet and other services, check if the price includes condo fees. If you are renting in a condominium, ask for a copy of the bylaws and regulations to avoid potential conflict with neighbors. Before signing, present the landlord with a list of anything you might want fixed or changed – document by getting everything via email and photos!
Need anything else or help booking amazing rental properties - at a discount? Just email me anytime!
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