Monday, June 6, 2011

Costa Rica and Your 2011 Plans for Vacation, Investment, and Retirement

Costa Rica is rebounding in 2011, ahead of the global curve, due to its unique global appeal to visitors, investors, and retirees. This year seems to be the right time to visit and explore your options, if Costa Rica has ever been on your mind for vacation, real estate investment, and individual retirement. Costa Rica has a rare combination of 1) natural beauty and temperate tropical weather, 2) a growing, diversified, and globalized economy, 3) status as one of the world’s top real estate investment destinations for high net worth individuals, and 4) an overall welcoming attitude to foreigners and government policies designed to attract retirees. The focus of activity and interest has been the on the country’s North Pacific coast with emerging coastal centers like Tamarindo and Flamingo, in the Guanacaste Province - Costa Rica's newest frontier for tourism and development.

Traditionally, the "high season" for travelers to Guanacaste and its dry, warm weather has coincided with winter in North America and Europe. Now, tourists, investors, and retirees have learned that the “Green Season” from the end of May to September offers equally pleasant weather, showers that are no more frequent than in the Midwest of the US in summer and turn the country into a lush paradise, and reduced rates for accommodations, tours, rental cars, etc. The Green Season has been a “best kept secret” that is leaking out as travelers discover it as a new summer vacation alternative.

Costa Rica has been on the minds of traveler’s for the last decade and it is rare to find someone who has not visited, not known someone who has, or is not dreaming to be able to go soon. Costa Rica regularly shares first place with Hawaii in global tourism surveys concerning the world’s most desirable vacation destinations. Both offer equivalent natural beauty, features like volcanoes, ocean sports headlined by surfing, and a climate that is very appealing for most months of the year. However, Costa Rica has a unique advantage in its closer proximity to North America and Europe, which in many cases saves several hours of travel time. Further, after arrival at its new international airport at Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR), its most popular tourist destinations (Arenal Volcano, Tamarindo beaches and surfing, and Ecotours) are within 1-3 hours by car.

The economy of the country has been increasingly diversified by the government’s encouragement of the relocation of high-tech industries, medical equipment producers, software companies, and distribution and call center services, among others. The number one export from Costa Rica is now Intel microchips, instead of a single agricultural product. Tourism is also back to setting new annual records for visitor volume, partially based on new interest in medical vacations and ecotourism.

Investors continue to favor Costa Rica real estate for all the above travel reasons, and the competitive aspects of low property tax rates (1/2 of 1% of value, per year) and the ability of foreigners to legally own 100% of properties, corporations, and other assets. The value of Costa Rica real estate has tracked with the rest of the world over the last 3-4 years, but it did not fall as far, and is already rebounding. Real estate prices in 2011 have actually started to trend upward in certain instances, and sellers who are enjoying higher rental incomes from higher visitor traffic, are starting to resist low offers. Investors, who may be holding back for “the moment” to return to the Costa Rica market, should consider visiting in the next few months before the prospects for a successful 2012 high season emboldens sellers any further.

Costa Rica is also in the process of introducing The Costa Rica MLS – the first truly national MLS system, which is being managed by the Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors (CRGAR). All CRGAR members are also members of NAR in the United States and ascribe to its Code of Ethics and Professional Practice. The real estate market is diversified and sophisticated with many options in homes, condos, view lots, development land, resorts, ranches, and even fractional ownership.

Retirees are being welcomed with increasingly open arms, as a recent national policy directive to encourage their relocation to Costa Rica, evolves into actual practice. Costa Rica estimates that each new foreign retiree generates 4 new permanent jobs in the national economy, which is a strong incentive to fashion policies to be more competitive with Florida, Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. Immigration and residency rules, in particular, favor any foreigner who may come to Costa Rica while receiving a pension from outside the country. Further, anyone investing at least $200,000 in Costa Rica real estate (retirement home?), can now use that investment as their application basis for permanent residency.

So, if you are a global vacationer, investor, and/or retiree, then you should strongly consider looking at Costa Rica in 2011. It is the moment to get involved, particularly if your interest may involve adding Costa Rica to your life for investment or retirement.

Send your questions…..

Allen Lungo


  1. Nice plans about Costa Rica Real Estate Property..I appreciate the work you have doing in the great manner...Thanks

  2. I Agree with Costa Rica home is a place , where every will wanna live after retirement , and the these plans are just perfect vacation and investment.

  3. I've been looking Costa Rica vacation home and focusing on Guanacaste since the airport in Liberia is nearby and has good flights.

    There are a lot of places on the coast where you can buy a beach house or a home a few minutes walk to the beach or with a view of the ocean.

    I'm looking from Tamarindo up to Papagayo. Some of the places that look good include:
    - Four Seasons at Papagayo, you get the Four Seasons but it's pricey
    - The Palms, beachfront homes on Playa Flamingo
    - Reserva Conchal, more resort like facilities
    - various individual homes eg around Tamarindo, with access to the town

    Does anyone have any thoughts on these various options?