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The Buying Process

Many of our clients have questions regarding how to buy property in Costa Rica and the legal process associated with the purchase of property in Costa Rica. This article is intended to give you a general overview of that process.

How to Buy Property in Costa Rica

Many of our clients have questions regarding how to buy property in Costa Rica and the legal process associated with the purchase of property in Costa Rica.  This article is intended to give you a general overview of that process.

Visit the Country


The first step to buying property in Costa Rica is to visit Costa Rica!  While not legally necessary, KRAIN highly recommends that each of its clients visit the country before buying property here.  KRAIN is happy to arrange travel plans to Costa Rica and to develop itineraries to assist its clients in determining which part of Costa Rica is best suited for them.  View KRAIN’s You Fly, We Buy Program.  We are excited for you to see the beauty and lifestyle that Costa Rica has to offer.

Identify the Property


The next step in the purchase of a property is for the potential buyer to identify the property that he or she wants.  KRAIN assists the buyer in this process by identifying and reviewing all of the available property in the area, narrowing the lists of available properties to those that best meet the potential buyer’s needs, and advising the client on the true market value of such properties based on comparable sales data in the area. 

In Costa Rica, and unlike other countries, there is no unified Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”) that all brokerages subscribe to determine the fair market value of a property.   Rather, in Costa Rica there are two, independent MLS service companies, and they do not share information.  In advising their clients on how much to pay for a property, most Costa Rica real estate brokerages use only one of the two MLS service companies (and some brokerages utilize neither, due to lack of funds to pay for these services).  KRAIN is one of the only brokerages that utilizes both MLS systems currently in place in Costa Rica.  KRAIN’s longstanding and strong relationship with both MLS service companies ensures that KRAIN’s clients (1) have all of the data available regarding the true market value of a property and (2) can use such data to their advantage.

KRAIN accompanies the buyer to each property showing in order to answer all questions and to advise—utilizing KRAIN’s combined 25 years of experience in the industry—on the benefits and pitfalls of the potential purchase.  In the case of buying a lot with no existing home, KRAIN advises its clients on exactly how much of the land can be used for building, any setbacks that need to be adhered to, and whether any encumbrances exist to prohibit or deter building.  Although typically conducted later within the due diligence period, KRAIN can arrange to obtain the property’s survey plan (also known as the “Plano Catastro”), the Use of Land Certificate (also known as a “Uso de Suelo”), and a property title check from the National Registry before an offer is even submitted. 

Submit an Offer


Once we have found that perfect property, the next step is to submit an offer, in the form of a “Letter of Intent” (also known as a “Purchase Proposal” or “Option to Purchase”).  The Letter of Intent includes the basic terms of the offer, including the property description, the general parameters of the purchase (the purchase price, the payment structure, and the amounts to be held in escrow), and a closing date.   It is common for the buyer and seller to negotiate upon the price of the offer.  Once the general terms of the offer have been orally accepted, the Letter of Intent is signed by both parties.  This Letter of Intent will provide the attorneys with the general outline to draft a formal Sale and Purchase Agreement.

Execute the Sale and Purchase Agreement


Once the Letter of Intent has been signed by both parties, KRAIN submits the Letter of Intent to the chosen attorney, so that the attorney may draft a Sale and Purchase Agreement (“SPA”). 

Although the parties can always agree otherwise, in a typical purchase where the buyer is paying cash for a property, the buyer customarily appoints his or her own attorney to draft the SPA and other closing documents.  KRAIN has many legal contacts throughout the country and is happy to recommend qualified and reputable attorneys upon request.  Typically, the cost of the attorney is split 50/50 by the buyer and seller. 

Exceptions to the above rules exists where there is seller financing.  For example, when a large part of the purchase price is being financed by the seller and a mortgage is required to guarantee payment, the seller may request that this or her attorney draft required documentation and/or that the buyer bear the cost for drafting such documents.  If the ratio of the transaction is 50% cash and 50% seller-financed, it is common for the seller’s attorney and buyer’s attorney to jointly draft the required documentation, in what is known as “co-notariado.”  Read more about financing options

The attorney will draft the formal Sales and Purchase Agreement (an “SPA”), which details the property and legally secures the property at the agreed-upon price, terms, and conditions.  Once the parties execute the SPA, the escrow is ready to be deposited and the due diligence period begins.

Set Up Amounts in Escrow


After the SPA is signed by both parties, the buyer needs to deposit the agreed-upon sum in escrow.  KRAIN works with several reputable escrow companies throughout the country and is happy to refer these companies upon request.  To establish an escrow account, the buyer will need a valid passport, a copy of last year’s tax returns, and a copy of the executed Sale and Purchase Agreement.  The buyer can also expect to fill out various “Know Your Client” forms required by the banks.  The escrow company acts as a neutral third party to hold the amounts in escrow (as well as any amounts deposited for the upcoming close of the property), until the contracts are finalized and signed by both parties.

Due Diligence


Once the SPA is executed, the Due Diligence Period begins.  Within this  time frame, the buyer, through its attorney and agents, will need to conduct all necessary or desired inspections of the property, including a home inspection, soil tests, topographical studies, structural studies and water studies.  KRAIN has a trusted group of field professionals to handle these inspections if needed. 

Also during this period, the attorney must conduct a title search to ensure that the property has a clear title.  The attorney will, among other things, search Costa Rica’s public National Registry, or “Registro Nacional.”  By law, all documents relating to an interest in or title to real property must be registered in the property section of Costa Rica’s National Registry.  The Registro Nacional contains the specific details of the property, including the title registration number (or folio real), name of the title holder, boundary lines, liens, mortgages, tax appraisals, recorded easements, and any other recorded documents that would affect title.  The attorney will also conduct an independent title search for further assurance of the property’s clear title. 

The attorney will obtain an updated survey plan and a Use of Land Certificate (or Uso de Suelo).  Any previously unknown building requirements, setbacks, encumbrances, liens, etc., must be discovered by the attorney and addressed by the parties. 

If both parties wish to move forward at the end of the due diligence period, the closing is scheduled.  

Attend the Closing


Typically, both the seller and buyer, along with their respective agents and attorneys, will personally appear at the closing.  While a personal appearance is not legally necessary—so long as a proper power of attorney is executed—KRAIN recommends it clients personally appear at the closing.  At the closing, the attorney will bring a recently-drafted transfer deed (or Escritura), which is necessary to transfer Costa Rican property from the seller to the buyer.  This deed must be executed on front of a Notary Public.  (In Costa Rica, the real estate attorneys are also notaries, so the attorneys’ presence fulfill this requirement.)  If not a full cash purchase, a mortgage will also need to be executed.  (In this situation, the transfer deed and mortgage are often drafted together as a single document.) 

It is typical for the buyer and the seller to share equally in the closing costs, although the parties can agree that all closing costs be financed by one particular party.  These costs include government-imposed transfer taxes and fees, notary fees and registration of mortgage costs, if applicable.  Learn more about Closing Costs.

Sometimes the property being purchased is held by a corporation, rather than by an individual.  In this case, a Share Transfer Agreement is executed in lieu of a transfer deed.  Read more about buying property held in a corporation.

Register the Transfer Deed


After the closing, the attorney will need to engage in a two-step process to notify the government and the public that the buyer is the new owner of the property.  First, the attorney must present (called “anotar”) the transfer deed to the Property Section of the Registro Nacional.  At this stage, any remaining fees must be paid and encumbrances lifted.  One the transfer deed has been accepted by the Registro Nacional, it will be returned to the attorney with all of the proper documentary stamps and seals affixed to it.  The attorney must then register the transfer deed (called “inscriber”) with the Registro Nacional.  Registration protects the buyer’s right to the property against third parties, and so it is important to follow up with the attorneys to ensure that this process is completed and that the property is registered under the buyer’s name.  The time frame for registration is approximately 45 to 60 days after presentment. 

Register with the Local Municipality


The final step in purchasing a property is to register the newly-acquired property with the local municipality for tax purposes.  This can be done easily by the buyer or the buyer’s attorney.  The buyer usually needs to present the closing documents, bring his or her passport, and fill out a form to register the property.  

Congratulations, you are now an owner of your Costa Rican dream property!

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.

Buying Property Held in a Corporation

In Costa Rica, it is somewhat common for real estate to be held in a corporation—of which 100% shares are owned by a person—rather than the person owning the property directly.

Buying Property Held in a Corporation

 

In Costa Rica, it is somewhat common for real estate to be held in a corporation—of which 100% shares are owned by a person—rather than the person owning the property directly.  In this case, rather than the parties executing a transfer deed to effectuate the sale of the property, the parties execute a Share Transfer Agreement.  Also, due diligence should be performed against the company to ensure that the company is passive (used only as a holding company for the property) and does not have any undisclosed contingencies (like the presence of debt, etc).

Owning Costa Rican property in a corporation is sometimes seen as beneficial because it may operate to separate potential personal liabilities, allow for easier transition to relatives in the event of death of the purchaser, and/or facilitate the closing procedure.  Prior to 2013, the closing costs were considerably cheaper if the transaction was effectuated through a corporation using a Share Transfer Agreement.  However, recent laws have closed this perceived loophole, and this benefit is not as advantages as it once was.  KRAIN recommends that its clients consult with an attorney to determine whether owning property through a corporation is best suited for them.  KRAIN has many legal contacts throughout the country and is happy to recommend qualified and reputable attorneys upon request.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.

Costa Rica Real Estate: Area tours

KRAIN Costa Rica is committed to finding the right property for you no matter where that property is located.

Costa Rica Real Estate: Area tours

KRAIN Costa Rica is committed to finding the right property for you no matter where that property is located. Since we have the largest network of agents in the country, we can arrange for you to see properties in multiple areas of Costa Rica.  

In addition, KRAIN offers 2-day “Real Estate and Lifestyle Tours” that are designed to give you all of the information you need to determine whether Costa Rica is right for you.  The tour is affordable, personalized, and tailored to the area that best fits your desired lifestyle, climate, and budget.  Best of all, the tour is fully refundable at closing if you purchase a property with KRAIN.  Our knowledge and personalized attention toward our clients is what makes us the best.  Period.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.

Obtaining Residency in Costa Rica

Many of our clients inquire about the legal process associated with obtaining residency in Costa Rica. This article is designed to give KRAIN’s clients an overview of the basic types of residency, along with their respective requirements.

The Tourist Visa


The basic Tourist Visa generally allows nonresidents to stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days.  Those on a Tourist Visa are not legally able to work or earn an income as an employee of a Costa Rican business or person.  While the Tourist Visa is not a type of residency, a significant percentage of foreigners living in Costa Rica use only the Tourist Visa, choosing to renew the visa by leaving the country every 90 days.  This is known as “perpetual tourism” and while once thought of as acceptable, the Costa Rican government has cracked down heavily on foreigners’ perpetual use of the Tourist Visa. 

In essence, the government has made perpetual tourism a more time consuming and expensive ordeal by (1) raising departure taxes and fees, instituting same-day re-entry fees, and increasing border-crossing vehicle fees; (2) imposing stricter requirements upon those leaving and returning to the country (in the form of detailed paperwork and proof of departure within 90 days); and (3) in extreme cases, giving as few as 15 days on the newly-issued visa when the tourists return to Costa Rica.  All of these hassles and risks have led more and more foreigners to apply for legal residency status.

Types of Residency

 

A.  Pensionado Residency

A Pensionado residency status is available for those persons receiving a “lifetime pension” (defined as state or federal retirement benefits, social security, a military pension, or a lifetime annuity) that guarantees an income for life of at least $1,000 per month.  This residency status is usually used by retirees, but there is no age requirement to obtain a Pensionado status.  Pensionados usually must live in Costa Rica for at least four months out of the year (although exceptions apply to limit the time spent in Costa Rica to as little as one day per year) and must enroll in—and can accept the benefits of being enrolled in—the local CCSS Government Health program (the “Caja”).  The Pensionado residency status is temporary, not permanent, meaning it must be renewed every two to three years.  After three years, the Pensionado has the right to apply for permanent residency.

The Pensionado cannot work as an employee of a Costa Rica entity, but can own his or her own business in Costa Rica and receive income from that business.

B.  Rentista Residency

A Rentista residency status is available for those who can either (1) show a guaranteed unearned income stream (in the form of interest or dividends) or (2) who makes a deposit of $60,000.00 into a Costa Rica or other acceptable bank.  With regard to the latter option of making a $60,000.00 deposit, the Rentista’s money is paid out to him or her at a rate of $2,500 per month for 24 months.  Rentista residency lasts for two years, after which either (1) the person leaves the country or (2) the residency status is renewed and another $60,000.00 is deposited so that the process can start again.  Similar to the Pensionado, the Rentista must live in Costa Rica for at least four months out of the year (exceptions may apply), must enroll in and can accept the benefits of the local CCSS Government Health program known as the Caja, has the right to apply for permanent residency after three years, and cannot work as an employee of a Costa Rican entity, but he or she can own a business in Costa Rica and receive income from that business.

C.  Inversionista Residency

Inversionista Residency (or Investor Residency) is available for those who have invested at least $200,000.00 in a Costa Rica business or in certain “government approved” sectors, including but not limited to real property, the tourism business, and certain stocks.  In 2012, the Costa Rica Government passed regulations also allowing an investment of at least $100,000.00 in a qualified reforestation program.  The Inversionista generally must live in Costa Rica for six months out of the year, is allowed to collect the income from any underlying project in Costa Rica, and can own and earn income from their own businesses in Costa Rica.  The investor may apply for permanent residency after three years.

D. Permanent Residency

Permanent residency can be granted to (1) those that have held Pensionado, Rentista, or Inversionista status for at least three years, or (2) any person who is a first-degree relative (meaning a mother, father, spouse, sister, or brother) of a Costa Rica citizen.  Thus, those couples who give birth to their child in Costa Rica often apply for permanent residency based on their first-degree relative status with their child, a Costa Rica Citizen.  This process of obtaining permanent residency is also known as the “Vínculo Program.” 

Permanent residents are required to enroll in and can accept the benefits of the Caja and must visit Costa Rica once per year.  Permanent residents can legally work as an employee of a Costa Rica entity, and have every right available to Costa Rica citizens except for the right to vote. 

E. Other Types of Residency

While rarely applied for, there are other, highly specialized types of residency statuses, including those for students, temporary workers, politicians or diplomats, executive or directors of companies that have a minimum number of local workers in Costa Rica, and refugees.  KRAIN is happy to answer questions about these types of residencies and has a trusted network of residency attorneys capable of handling these types of applications. 

Assistance in Filing Applications

 

Please note that the rules for residency are ever changing as Costa Rica’s immigration department continues to make adjustments in order to better deal with the continuing interest in foreigners moving to the country.  Further, applying for residency can be a long and bureaucratic process.  For these reasons, KRAIN highly recommends that persons seeking legal residency hire competent counsel to assist them in filing their applications.  Read more about Residency Attorneys, Organizations, and Approximate Costs and Fees.

*The above information is to be used for informational purposes only, is not to be construed or taken as legal advice, and should not and cannot take the place of the advice of legal counsel. 

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.

Residency Attorneys and Organizations

Residency Attorneys, Organizations, and Approximate Costs and Fees

Residency Attorneys and Organizations


Because the immigration laws are ever changing and applying for residency can be a long and bureaucratic process, KRAIN highly recommends that persons seeking legal residency hire competent counsel to assist them in filing their applications. KRAIN has several attorneys and professional organizations it can recommend upon request. 

In addition, a trusted organization that many expatriates use to assist them with their residency needs is the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (“ARCR”).  The ARCR is a 25-year-old organization specifically created to assist those wishing to move to, live in, or retire in Costa Rica.  The organization serves foreign residents in Costa Rica as well as people abroad who want to obtain residency in Costa Rica.

The filing costs associated with basic residency applications vary according to the type of residency applied for, but, generally, run approximately $300 per application.  The legal fees associated with filing for residency—charged by the ARCR or any other reputable attorney—can range from $1,100-$1,300 per adult and from $ 600-$800 per child.  

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.

Why Investment Real Estate in Costa Rica Makes Sense

Costa Rica is more than an alluring vacation or retirement destination; it's an attractive place to pursue investment real estate.

Countless investment opportunities exist.

 

There are numerous options to consider when looking at investment real estate in Costa Rica. As Central America's leading vacation destination, hotels and vacation rentals are two areas of the market that are extremely easy to pursue. Those who have experience with larger property management opportunities will not be disappointed in the gated and condominium communities in existence, while those who want to build have plenty of land-buying options. With all those tourists passing through regularly and a constantly growing expat community, high-quality restaurants are also more in demand than ever.

You can get a tropical getaway out of the deal.

 

Investing in Costa Rica real estate comes with one perk your friends and family will be especially excited about–a vacation, part-time, or full-time home in the tropics. If you purchase a rental property, you can plan an escape from the cold winter weather or reserve it for you and your personal guests at any time throughout the year. If you invest in a hotel, there's no reason you shouldn't enjoy the presidential suite from time to time. Even if you choose a commercial investment, you'll always have an excuse to get away from it all with a quick "business-related" trip to Costa Rica.

Your property will generate income throughout the year.

 

While there are certainly peak times during which most tourists visit–winter, spring break, and summer vacations–there is never a time when travelers stop coming to Costa Rica.  For example, budget travelers like to plan their trips during the “green season” when they know the scenery will be beautiful and they can find discounted rates. Daily rainfall is to be expected during much of Costa Rica's green season, from April to December, though some parts of the country are dryer than others. The northern Guanacaste province, for example, is notoriously dry and has little rainfall. A steady flow of income can often be expected for about 10 months out of the year in popular Guanacaste beach towns like Tamarindo and Samara.

You can incorporate your passion into the investment.

 

If you so choose, investing in Costa Rica can be more than a financial decision; it can be a passion project. If you've always dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast, there's no better place than Costa Rica to make that dream a reality. If you love the idea of owning a restaurant, an art gallery, or a cafe, the Costa Rican government and business scene will welcome you with open arms. Cattle farms, agricultural properties, and teak farms are also available. Whether you want to build from the ground up or find a turnkey business that's ready to go, Costa Rica has it all.

You don't have to be a resident to own a business or property in Costa Rica.

 

Fortunately, residency status is not a requirement for purchasing investment real estate or opening a business in Costa Rica. When you do come to visit, you'll be granted a 90-day visa with no questions asked. The only stipulation is that you must travel outside the country at the end of the 3-month period, which essentially serves as an excuse to fit in a quick vacation if nothing else. Starting a business or investing in real estate gives an edge when it comes to gaining residency if that's something you're interested in.

Costa Rica has a strong infrastructure that continues to improve.

 

There are now two major international airports in Costa Rica, with frequent flights to and from numerous U.S. cities and other international destinations. The Juan Santamaria International Airport is located just outside San Jose, and the Daniel Oduber International Airport is located near Liberia, putting the popular beaches of Guanacaste within a driving distance of just an hour or two. There are regional airports throughout the country and talks of constructing another international airport in the southern zone. A modern new highway was just opened several years ago and connects the Central Valley to the Pacific Coast, cutting down travel time by an hour or more. The major Interamericana Highway, which runs all the way from the U.S. to Chile in South America, is undergoing a major revitalization and expansion near the city of Liberia. Costa Rica's government has made it clear that they are ready to welcome investors and travelers with its well-maintained roadways and modern airports.

Among the reasons listed above, it's worth noting just how economically and politically stable Costa Rica is. There is no political unrest, riots, or anti-government demonstrations like in other Latin American countries. The local currency, colones, rarely fluctuates in value. The country has no standing army, nor has it since 1948. It boasts a strong public school system and Central America's highest literacy rate. Crime rates are low, and quality of life is consistently ranked among the highest in the world in independent studies. It is one of the few countries in the world with a tropical climate yet no hurricane or tropical storm season. When compared side by side with other Latin American or Caribbean nations, Costa Rica is the clear front-runner for real estate investment.

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.

Investing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is more than an alluring vacation or retirement destination; it's an attractive place to pursue investment real estate.

Why Investment Real Estate in Costa Rica Makes Sense

 

Costa Rica is more than an alluring vacation or retirement destination; it's an attractive place to pursue investment real estate. With young families, adventurous travelers, and new retirees choosing Costa Rica for their next journey, it's no surprise that the real estate scene is thriving. There are all kinds of investment real estate options to consider, whether you want to live onsite, visit the property from time to time, or prefer to use it strictly as a source of income. With a solid infrastructure, a proven record for positive return on income (“ROI”), and a bright future, investment real estate in Costa Rica just makes sense.

Countless investment opportunities exist.


There are numerous options to consider when looking at investment real estate in Costa Rica. As Central America's leading vacation destination, hotels and vacation rentals are two areas of the market that are extremely easy to pursue. Those who have experience with larger property management opportunities will not be disappointed in the gated and condominium communities in existence, while those who want to build have plenty of land-buying options. With all those tourists passing through regularly and a constantly growing expat community, high-quality restaurants are also more in demand than ever.

You can get a tropical getaway out of the deal.

 

Investing in Costa Rica real estate comes with one perk your friends and family will be especially excited about–a vacation, part-time, or full-time home in the tropics. If you purchase a rental property, you can plan an escape from the cold winter weather or reserve it for you and your personal guests at any time throughout the year. If you invest in a hotel, there's no reason you shouldn't enjoy the presidential suite from time to time. Even if you choose a commercial investment, you'll always have an excuse to get away from it all with a quick "business-related" trip to Costa Rica.

Your property will generate income throughout the year.

 

While there are certainly peak times during which most tourists visit–winter, spring break, and summer vacations–there is never a time when travelers stop coming to Costa Rica.  For example, budget travelers like to plan their trips during the “green season” when they know the scenery will be beautiful and they can find discounted rates. Daily rainfall is to be expected during much of Costa Rica's green season, from April to December, though some parts of the country are dryer than others. The northern Guanacaste province, for example, is notoriously dry and has little rainfall. A steady flow of income can often be expected for about 10 months out of the year in popular Guanacaste beach towns like Tamarindo and Samara.

You can incorporate your passion into the investment.

 

If you so choose, investing in Costa Rica can be more than a financial decision; it can be a passion project. If you've always dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast, there's no better place than Costa Rica to make that dream a reality. If you love the idea of owning a restaurant, an art gallery, or a cafe, the Costa Rican government and business scene will welcome you with open arms. Cattle farms, agricultural properties, and teak farms are also available. Whether you want to build from the ground up or find a turnkey business that's ready to go, Costa Rica has it all.

You don't have to be a resident to own a business or property in Costa Rica.

 

Fortunately, residency status is not a requirement for purchasing investment real estate or opening a business in Costa Rica. When you do come to visit, you'll be granted a 90-day visa with no questions asked. The only stipulation is that you must travel outside the country at the end of the 3-month period, which essentially serves as an excuse to fit in a quick vacation if nothing else. Starting a business or investing in real estate gives an edge when it comes to gaining residency if that's something you're interested in.

Costa Rica has a strong infrastructure that continues to improve.

 

There are now two major international airports in Costa Rica, with frequent flights to and from numerous U.S. cities and other international destinations. The Juan Santamaria International Airport is located just outside San Jose, and the Daniel Oduber International Airport is located near Liberia, putting the popular beaches of Guanacaste within a driving distance of just an hour or two. There are regional airports throughout the country and talks of constructing another international airport in the southern zone. A modern new highway was just opened several years ago and connects the Central Valley to the Pacific Coast, cutting down travel time by an hour or more. The major Interamericana Highway, which runs all the way from the U.S. to Chile in South America, is undergoing a major revitalization and expansion near the city of Liberia. Costa Rica's government has made it clear that they are ready to welcome investors and travelers with its well-maintained roadways and modern airports.

Among the reasons listed above, it's worth noting just how economically and politically stable Costa Rica is. There is no political unrest, riots, or anti-government demonstrations like in other Latin American countries. The local currency, colones, rarely fluctuates in value. The country has no standing army, nor has it since 1948. It boasts a strong public school system and Central America's highest literacy rate. Crime rates are low, and quality of life is consistently ranked among the highest in the world in independent studies. It is one of the few countries in the world with a tropical climate yet no hurricane or tropical storm season. When compared side by side with other Latin American or Caribbean nations, Costa Rica is the clear front-runner for real estate investment.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.

Relocation: Things to Consider

Choosing to move abroad is a big decision that can bring new excitement and energy to your life. Consider these important factors if you're thinking about making the move to Costa Rica.

Things to Consider When Moving to Costa Rica

 

Choosing to move abroad is a big decision that can bring new excitement and energy to your life. If you've selected Costa Rica for your new home, there's so much to look forward to. From the pleasant climate to the incredible wildlife to the slower, more enjoyable pace, expats easily fall in love with this tropical Central American country time and time again. As with any move, you'll also have a lot to learn about how things work in your new surroundings. There's no doubt that parts of the transition will be seamless, while others may take adjustment. Consider these important factors if you're thinking about making the move to Costa Rica.

Education


Costa Rica has an impressive public school system that extends throughout the entire country, including the most remote of areas. This robust educational system is not just a point of pride among locals; it has been named one of the leading public school systems in the world. Interestingly enough, it has outranked the United States on more than one occasion. The school year in Costa Rica is based on the traditional coffee-picking season, with classes beginning in mid-February and ending in early December.

If you're moving to Costa Rica with school-aged children in tow, you will be pleased to discover a large selection of world-class private schools as well. In the most popular relocation areas, including the Central Valley, Guanacaste, and sizable towns such as Jaco, Quepos, and Limon, parents have their pick of a variety of different learning environments in schools of all sizes. Many private schools follow the U.S. calendar, with students being off from classes during July and August, so travel to and from the States during this time doesn't interfere with their studies. Some schools have implemented the prestigious International Baccalaureate structure, which promotes critical thinking and international mindedness. Other schools follow a U.S. curriculum, with students graduating with a U.S. Diploma. Parents can rest assured that their children will graduate as responsible citizens prepared for university attendance after graduating from one of these well-respected schools.

Health Insurance


Costa Rica offers its residents low-cost healthcare through a national insurance program known as the Caja. The network covers all aspects of healthcare, including routine check-ups, testing, surgical procedures, emergency medical attention, and more. Foreigners who move to Costa Rica are eligible to pay a nominal premium and join the comprehensive network once their residency has been approved.

Prior to gaining residency status, or for those who prefer to keep their status as a perpetual tourist, expats have their choice of coverage options through reputable insurance companies, like Cigna or Aetna. You may opt to save money by selecting an international coverage plan with a high deductible, using that coverage only for emergencies. Many expats choose to receive medical care from one of three private hospital networks, which offer a superior level of service at surprisingly affordable rates. CIMA, Clinica Biblica, and La Catolica all provide world-class medical care in modern facilities, much like you would find in the U.S. Quality medical care costs a fraction of what it does in the U.S., which means it is possible to pay out of pocket in many cases.

Owning a Vehicle


 Costa Rica has a growing network of modern expressways and roads, making it easier than ever to travel from one point to another both quickly and efficiently. Expats who make the move will want to learn more about the pros and cons of bringing a vehicle with them versus purchasing a new vehicle after they've arrived. It's important to note that the taxes and fees associated with importing a vehicle are extremely high. Vehicles, both new and used, hold their value very well in Costa Rica, which translates to higher purchase prices. Be prepared to pay significantly more for a vehicle than what you would expect in the States. Additionally, it is highly likely that a purchase will be made in cash, in the presence of an attorney. Opening a bank account in Costa Rica takes some time, patience, and the right combination of paperwork. Fortunately, there is a strong and easy-to-navigate public transportation network, particularly in San Jose and its environs, which means getting around while you handle these automotive needs should not be difficult.

Once a vehicle has successfully been imported or purchased, there are two necessary annual registrations that owners must keep up to date. The Marchamo is a national vehicle registration that is updated at the end of each calendar year, along with payment of a fee, which is determined based on the value of the vehicle. This mandatory Marchamo includes basic coverage of passengers in the case of injury. Car owners can elect to purchase additional coverage from an independent insurance agency as well. As is the case in the U.S., a vehicle inspection, known as the Riteve, is required once per year.

Banking


 As touched upon above, opening a bank account in Costa Rica is not as simple as it is the U.S. In some cases, foreigners are first required to create a limited liability corporation, which typically costs between $500-$900. Then, the bank account and associated banking is managed in the name of that corporation. Two of the most popular banks in Costa Rica, Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica, require that you provide a letter of reference from your home bank in order to establish an account with them. Most expats seek the guidance of a lawyer in navigating this process and establishing themselves in terms of banking, car ownership, investment management, and many other areas. 

Telecommunications


 Fortunately, Costa Rica has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the number of offerings available for phone, cable, and Internet over the last few years. Residents can choose from a variety of providers for landline and mobile services. High-speed internet is easy to obtain in the most populated cities and communities, though service in more rural areas can still be a bit more difficult. As far as television providers, both cable and satellite services offer robust package options, with many channels being available in English. Favorite movie channels, such as HBO and Cinemax, plus sports, music, and other popular channels, are widely available as well.

Climate


While Costa Rica is a warm, tropical country, there are many vastly different microclimate zones to choose from when selecting your new home. For example, in San Jose, it's not uncommon for locals to wear long pants, sweaters, and jackets during the green season, from April through November. To the contrary, communities along both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts are consistently warm, with temperatures in the 80s and up into the 90s year-round. In the remote Osa Peninsula, rainfall is to be expected at any time, while the northern Guanacaste region is known for being particularly dry throughout the year. Individuals and families who are selecting a relocation destination in Costa Rica have their choice of climates, including factors like humidity, amount of rainfall, and temperature.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.

Why Retirement in Costa Rica makes Sense.

The quality of life in Costa Rica is excellent, and, in fact, the more one learns about the Central American country, the more appealing it becomes as a retirement destination.

Why So Many Expats Choose Retirement in Costa Rica

 

Costa Rica has long been a popular tourist destination, attracting more crowds than neighboring countries thanks to its incredible wildlife, natural attractions, and abundance of tours and activities. Those who are looking for a retirement destination are attracted to the country's well-established infrastructure, low crime rates, and excellent healthcare–and that's just the tip of the iceberg. The quality of life in Costa Rica is excellent, and, in fact, the more one learns about the Central American country, the more appealing it becomes as a retirement destination. Consider these winning factors and you'll quickly see why so many expats choose retirement in Costa Rica:

It ranks #1 on the Happy Planet Index.

 

The Happy Planet Index measures "the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them." The index judges life expectancy, experienced well-being, and ecological footprint and ranks more than 150 countries. Costa Rica holds the honor of being ranked #1 thanks to its superior scores in all three categories.

The climate can't be beat.


Costa Rica has a generally mild climate that is consistently pleasant. There are no snow or ice storms to worry about, even at the highest elevations. Individual micro climates throughout the country ensure those who retire in Costa Rica can find the ideal temperature and humidity level for their tastes. In the Central Valley, for example, temperatures average around 72 to 78 degrees. Sun seekers can head to either the Pacific or Caribbean coast and enjoy warmer temperatures in the 80s all year-long. Retirees can choose nearly daily rainfall in the lush green tropical zone near the Osa Peninsula or opt for the dry Guanacaste region where rain showers are generally limited to June through November and are much more predictable.

Quality, affordable healthcare is widespread.

 

Costa Rica has a comprehensive healthcare system that provides care to residents throughout the whole country. Known as the "Caja," expats who have "pensionado" (retirement) status in Costa Rica are also eligible to join the system for a nominal fee. Those who seek healthcare and medical facilities comparable to those found in the U.S. are pleased to visit one of Costa Rica's three private hospital systems, CIMA, in Escazu, and Clinica Biblica and La Catolica, both in San Jose. These world-class medical facilities offer every department and type of service one could need, ranging from routine check-ups to CAT Scans to complex surgeries. Due to the lower cost of health care in Costa Rica, medical tourism is on the rise, and how now become the second largest industry in Costa Rica.

Its time zone is compatible with the United States.

 

The time zone in Costa Rica is Central Standard Time, or six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Savings Time, setting the country just one or two hours behind Eastern Standard Time all year long. Because its time is always comparable to any of the three zones within the U.S., expats who reside there don't have to worry about when to call family and friends in the States. Travel is easier, too, since you don't need to worry about jet lag.

It is a short flight away from the United States.

 

Though it may feel like you're far, far away from life in the U.S., the reality is that you're just a few hours away by plane when you're in Costa Rica. Flights are not only easy to find, but they're also very affordable. Roundtrip tickets can routinely be found between $500 and $800–sometimes even less. Not only do retirees have the option of easily and affordably traveling to the U.S., but friends and family will want to reciprocate.

Natural beauty surrounds you, no matter where you settle down.

 

Costa Rica's natural beauty cannot be denied. From beaches to mountains to rain forest, this Central American country has it all. Even city dwellers can drive just 20 minutes out of town and arrive at stunning waterfalls or a mountaintop town with incredible views. Spotting wildlife is a party of daily life in Costa Rica. From a pack of coatimundi along the side of the road to a pair of scarlet macaws snacking in a beach almond tree, you don't have to look hard to see why people around the world are attracted to Costa Rica.

You don't need to speak Spanish.

 

English-only speakers appreciate how prevalent the language is in Costa Rica, especially in San Jose and many other highly desirable locations. Thanks to the many thriving expat communities throughout the country, you won't have any trouble making new friends without worrying about a language barrier. Expats can feel comfortable ordering at restaurants, visiting the doctor, and living their day-to-day life without speaking a word of Spanish if they so choose. Not to worry if you do feel like practicing your Spanish though–there's no shortage of opportunities to do so.

Finally, you can do it all in Costa Rica. Whether you dream of a peaceful retirement spent relaxing on the beach or an adventurous life full of exploration and activity, you can choose nearly anything in Costa Rica. From beachfront luxury homes to remote jungle retreats to urban residences in the heart of the action, you're sure to find your dream property in Costa Rica. Don't let its small size fool you–Costa Rica offers you everything you could ask for.

 

Copyright © 2014 KRAIN Costa Rica Limitada, All rights reserved.