8 Often Asked Questions About Life in Costa Rica

May 11, 2023 in Buying Process, Discover Costa Ballena, Tips for Buyers

In this week's article, we want to share with you some common questions that we get asked about life in Costa Rica by our clients who have just begun their property search. We love getting asked these questions because we get to flex our knowledge a little and also share the things that we enjoy most about living in the Costa Ballena. This is a really special part of the world thanks to our vibrant local communities and culture, plus the spectacular show that nature puts on for us every day. And as always, let us know if you have any other questions that you might like to have answered in the comments section below.


What are houses like in Costa Ballena?


With a large population of expats migrating here from around the world for many years, there are a variety of styles that architects are able to emulate in this region. As the number of expats grows, the quality of materials and the caliber of talent among the architects in this region grows, too. There are many American and European style homes, with a large number of modern, open-concept, Bali-influenced homes being built at the moment. Good, solid construction can be expected, in spite of the regular tectonic activity. The best options for a solid home is concrete block construction, but concrete sheet and stud is also popular and lasts well.


Most properties are mountainside and can be ocean view, mountain view, tucked in the jungle, or all of the above. The better the view, the higher the price will be. Many properties are nicely manicured, with lovely floral gardens and numerous fruit trees. Properties can be very private and remote or nearby to neighbors. This all depends on your preferences.


What are the different seasons like?


Many people want to know what it’s like to live here in the rainy or green season (May to November). Most of us who live here full-time love the rainy season. It can be a bit much at times, though, like when you want to dry something that doesn’t fit in the dryer. But the rainy or green season is special because it brings out the vibrance in jungle life. Flowers bloom and turn to fruit. Baby animals are born. And the fruiting trees bring more animals to our yards if we are cultivating them.


The dry and high season is from December to April. It is hot, clear and breezy basically every day, making it a great time of year for construction and maintenance to take place. Tourists prefer this time of year because a) they are getting away from cold weather and b) they can pre-book tours and expect that it will most likely be a nice day.


What is the internet like?


Fiber optic cable is increasingly available in our Costa Ballena region. With it, many homes and businesses are achieving speeds of 10-20 mbps download speeds with some of the newest providers offering 20+ mbps, and 4-6 mbps upload. Where there is no fiber optic cable, most providers offer 4-10 mbps download speeds, which tends to be enough for video streaming, video conferencing and other things that the majority of people expect to do online for work or fun.


Are there a lot of power outages?


Before we started burying power lines in this region, there were many more power outages due to animals getting into the transformers or falling branches taking out power lines. There are still many suspended power lines, but Ice, Costa Rica’s power company, has vastly improved their maintenance and response time for the majority of issues that arise. We have not had any remarkable power outages lasting longer than a couple of hours, and most last only a few seconds.


How much can I buy ocean view real estate for?


Ocean view real estate is a depleting commodity. New luxury developments being built are pushed further up the mountain with a further back view than many existing ocean view homes that tend to be closer to the coast. As a result, there are very few ocean view homes under $500k left on the market. Ocean view lots in the Costa Ballena tend to begin at the $100k mark, with some small properties available for less.


How much can I earn by renting my property while I wait for retirement?


The rental market in the Costa Ballena region is hot. There are hundreds of vacation rentals on the market and it appears to be the preferred way to experience this region of Costa Rica. It is almost a necessity for tourists to rent cars when traveling this area and this type of trip is more conducive to renting a whole home rather than staying at a hotel. As such, the return on investment for a typical VRBO rental is around 6% with luxury rentals often taking in more. There are a number of homes that rent for more than $500 per night in this region of Costa Rica.


How do people move their things to Costa Rica?


International moving companies are a growing business in Costa Rica with good reviews from customers. Many people choose to ship their household goods and vehicles to Costa Rica by container ship, especially if they have recently sold their family home in their country of origin. Keep in mind that there are many diverse local options for purchasing most things you could want for your home. Often times, locally made products last better in this environment than things that were made for an entirely different climate.


How much does it cost to live here?


The cost of living in Costa Rica is often quoted as higher than many of its neighboring nations.  considering the stunning, protected environment here, the quality of social care, and the stable, democratic government—added to the fact that Costa Rica is far less expensive to live on the whole than the places that expats come from—it’s easy to understand why Costa Rica is the third most expat populated nation in Latin America.


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