Buying a house in Costa Rica long distance is no easy task but it can surely be done.  In fact, thousands of people purchase properties in Costa Rica from all over the world every year.  Working with the right real estate team is the trick to making this task a success.  With a bit of patience, persistence and luck, you, too, can find the tropical home that meets your budget and lifestyle needs. 

Ready to begin your search?  Here are some tips for making your long distance house hunting in Costa Rica a successful experience:

Use a top-notch realtor

Having an expert agent on your house hunting team is essential.  You want someone who will show you the ins and outs of each community they take you to so that you can make an informed and wise decision.  Without the help of a seasoned and trustworthy agent by your side, you could easily end up making a costly mistake.  Choose an agent with excellent contacts and client reviews showing that they are good at proactively communicating with clients and easy to reach.  Your agent should be able to go see a place in-person as soon as it comes on the market to determine if it fits your needs and report back to you.

Research the area on your own

Not everything can be left up to your realtor and you need to determine what life may be like for you in the region.  This means reading guide books about Costa Rica, looking at maps, checking listings on various local websites (there is no centralized MLS in our region yet), and keeping up with local news through community pages and blogs.  Speak to relatives or friends in the area, and reach out to ask questions about the area.  You want to learn information about the housing market, livability scores, job market, schools, crime rate and cost of living. 

Figure out your needs

Having an understanding of your wants and needs is essential to making a decision when it comes to buying a house, whether close of long distance.  But for those specifically looking at buying a property in Costa Rica, whether you’ve been here yet or not, ask yourself:

  • Do I want to live in a rural or urban environment?
  • What style of house do I want?
  • Do I want to live in close proximity to certain amenities?
  • Do I want an ocean or mountain view property?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do I need?
  • Do I want more living space indoors or outdoors?
  • Is it important that I live near an airport?
  • Do I need a furnished home?
  • Do I want to live in a gated community?

There are many more questions to consider.  The point is to get a head start so that your agent can narrow down your search to what you really want and need.

Decide on a (realistic) budget

Our different communities in the Costa Ballena region of Costa Rica have different price points.  Keep in mind that the cost of living must be built into your budget, too, and the considerations here are quite different.  Having a good realtor on hand is important because he or she will share information with you about average monthly expenses, like car maintenance costs, home owner’s associations costs, taxes, food, going out, childcare, rental rates, etc.

Plan to visit to get the lay of the land

Researching a place online is only so revealing and we highly recommend that you visit before buying.  If possible, it is best to plan multiple visits before moving to a new place.  As great as South Pacific Costa Rica is, you should plan to see various neighborhoods to get a feel for your comfort in each of them.  Spending time in your top community choices will allow you to familiarize yourself with the area so that you make a more informed home buying decision.  We also suggest dining out at local restaurants, exploring transportation options, and shopping at local stores and markets.  Every area has a slightly different feel, and although our region is small enough to enjoy them all on the regular, it is still important to feel close to your home community.  Choosing one in the Costa Ballena can be hard, but you will be rewarded with a strong sense of community.  Keep an open mind: you may think that you want one thing before you arrive, but until you see what else is out there, you won’t know for sure if it’s right for you.  And plan ahead for last-minute travel as you near your decision, too.

Overcome remote home buyer jitters

For those who are nervous about making an offer sign unseen, there is the possibility of adding a clause in the contract to say that the sale is contingent on the buyer seeing the property.  Another possibility to work into an agreement is to rent the property for a short term to get a feel for the routine of the home or the community.  You may not be able to rent the home that you want to buy, but you can rent one near by to relieve the anxiety of not knowing what life will be like. 

Moving long distance is a fresh start in a new neighborhood, new culture, new people, and new experiences.  Regardless of how many properties you’ve bought and sold before, we know that the process is different (and a little scary) when it’s in a new country.  Ask all of the questions that you have, no matter how silly they may seen.  Our team of agents are friendly, helpful and open to answering any questions you may have.  We have coached hundreds of buyers and sellers through the processes of Costa Rica real estate.  Get in touch with us today.  It’s never to early to start your search for Costa Rica property.  Sign up to get our weekly newsletter here: