May 11, 2023 in Tips for Sellers, Selling Process, Tips for Buyers, Real Estate in Costa Rica

To us realtors in Costa Rica, it’s pretty common to hear people say they want to buy a beautiful ocean view home in Costa Rica for under $300k USD. I mean, I guess that sounds pretty reasonable for a small place to live in one of the most magical parts of the world, right? Two years ago, this was actually the case! Our Costa Ballena region was heavily entrenched in a buyer’s market, still reeling for many years after the Great Global Recession hit Costa Rica beginning in 2009. But the Costa Rican government spent more that year investing in a big international marketing push and many trade deals were recently made, resulting in increased direct flights.

Today, Costa Rica is hot for world travel! Our long time hidden gem has been newly exposed to the world and everyone is flocking to our “remote” region of the Costa Ballena, where tourism has only flourished for only a few short years so far. Tucked away in the South Pacific region of the country, the Costa Ballena is about 3.5 hours drive from San Jose. There are two small airports within an hours drive from our region, with an increasing number of domestic airlines to bring tourists to our region.

It’s really no surprise to us that people come here and fall in love. They see other expats enjoying more than a two week vacation and they too want to live in one of our great jungle communities, too! And so, in this week's article, we want to share a bit more information about who today's buyers are and what they are finding on the real estate market for under $400k.

Today's buyers

Most of the buyers we’ve seen in recent months have been from the United States. Canadians and Europeans are among current buyers, especially those who are absolutely tired of the cold. They come from places like Calgary, Toronto, Zurich and London, UK. However, not everyone can afford the low exchange rate, which favors the US Dollar. And as the colon slowly drops in value over time, Americans are going to continue getting an even more favorable exchange.

US buyers have a long history of expatriating to the land of pura vida thanks to the quick, direct, and cheap flights from major hubs like Houston, Denver, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles. They come for the much less expensive healthcare at top notch facilities and for the great weather, among other, more personal reasons.

Not everyone comes here for the amazing surf and many people are retirees, although not all are 65+. Quite a few younger expats are coming to retire in their 50s and sometimes 40s! Thanks to good financial planning and new opportunities to work remotely, more diversity of people are choosing to live a more simple, more peaceful life in Costa Rica. They come to start small businesses, volunteer in the community and ultimately to pursue their passions.

We are seeing a rise in non-retiree expats as well, who are coming to buy homes with vacation rental potential. A few of these are choosing to build in consideration of their future retirement dream home. They may not come for long visits but they tend to come to Costa Rica a few times a year with their family. The rest of the year, they rent their home through sites like AirBnB and VRBO. There are good property managers in this region and there is considerable ROI potential with the right property.

Those buying existing homes are often renovating or even adding new structures. Many homes on the market are a few years old and were not built with many of the modern options that have become more readily available in Costa Rica. Quartz countertops, Coralina tiles, and bathroom upgrades are some of the most popular options for increasing revenue on a vacation rental. Modern, clean and functional are key features that most buyers and renters want.

For those who want a modern, three bedroom home with an incredible ocean view on a nice property, be prepared to spend $500k or more, depending on the location. Recent buyers have all but cleared out the large inventory of “fixer-uppers,” also known as older homes on maturely landscaped properties with incredible ocean views. Many of these homes were on the market for years and most have sold in the last year.

So what’s actually available for those with a smaller budget?

For those looking for an ocean view home in Costa Rica for $300k or less, you may have difficult time finding one you like (if at all). Small 2-3 bedroom homes with mountain or jungle views can be found in that price range, though, and some buyers are choosing these options for their unique beauty. Mountain views are truly majestic in the jungle and their green ridges emerge out of the backdrops of many of these properties. Riverside homes are in this price range, too, which are favored for their abundant animal sightings!

Some smaller budget buyers of varying demographics are choosing to buy land for a variety of reasons. They may want to hold onto it for a future project when they are financially ready. Some buy property as an investment, hoping that land value will increase. The latter option is less dependable historically, although we would recommend investing in a great ocean view lot in this region in case the prices do go up. Sizeable ocean view lots for sale are more scarce in the most desirable areas in communities like Ojochal, and Uvita. In Dominical, you may not find one for under $200k. But the further south you go, to places like Tres Rios and Chontales, lower priced options are more plentiful.

The biggest thing we are hearing from buyers is that they just want to get away and live in a better, more healthy and happy way. However they can do it, people with lower budgets are coming to Costa Rica and it’s pushing up the real estate prices in 2019. Great news for sellers, but buyers better hurry to get their best piece of paradise.

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