OWNING PROPERTY IN COSTA RICA
OWNING PROPERTY IN COSTA RICA
Your villa home in Arenal Hills is more than beautiful. It’s a beautiful source of income.
When you purchase a villa home at Arenal Hills, you’ll be able to enjoy your villa while you’re here and enjoy carefree income while you’re away.
If you choose to participate in the Arenal Hills rental program your home will be rented to qualified tourists and visitors at an average rate of $500 a night – and 70% of the income is yours.
Arenal Hills takes care of all of the details – from qualifying renters, housekeeping services, and maintenance, to aggressive marketing to achieve maximum occupancy for participating villa owners.
OWNING PROPERTY IN COSTA RICA
The right to own property is available to all residents of Costa Rica, and those rights are protected by the country’s constitution.
Property can also be purchased by foreigners who are either looking to relocate or simply vacation in Costa Rica, and those foreigners are entitled to the same ownership rights as native Costa Ricans. So, no matter how much time you plan on spending here in paradise, you should have no problem at all buying and selling property just as you would back home in the U.S.
Pro Tip: One way to make sure that the purchase of a property goes smooth is to work with a master-planned community like Arenal Hills that has plenty of experience dealing with foreign buyers.
SO WHAT’S DIFFERENT?
Much of the lifestyle you will find in Costa Rica is similar to what you are used to in the United States, but there are a few stark differences that will continuously remind you that you sure aren’t in Kansas anymore.
First of all, Costa Rica is one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world. You will notice the lack of carbon emissions in the air almost immediately, and you can’t help but notice the green natural beauty surrounding your everywhere that you go.
Hidden in various parts of that lush greenery are some of the most unique collections of wildlife that you will find anywhere on the planet. Costa Rica is famous for its sloths and turtles, but you will also see amazing birds, butterflies, and reptiles here as well.
One more thing that you definitely won’t find back home is an active (but safe…it hasn’t erupted since 1968) volcano! Arenal Volcano is just a short trip from San Jose, and it is a great place to explore the mountains or take a dip in the hot springs.
A VARIETY OF AFFORDABLE REAL ESTATE
For many years Costa Rica has been on the list of nearly everyone interested in a home in the sun. Today the country is even higher up the list, thanks to real estate bargains throughout the country. Make no mistake, however. You won’t find the rock-bottom prices as you would in places like Mexico where the property market crashed a few years ago. Most real estate experts estimate that prices in Costa Rica dropped 20% to 30% during the economic crisis several years ago, and that includes prices in some of the most sought-after locales, such as the Central Valley and the Pacific Coast.
Many expats are choosing to settle in the Lake Arenal area, about a four-hour drive northwest from San Jose. Lake Arenal is a 50-square-mile, pristine, tropical, mountain lake. With Volcan Arenal looming majestically at one end, it’s surrounded by rolling hills of cool pine forests and fertile pastures. And the average daily temperature is 75° F. That’s every day—temperatures never vary by much more than five degrees any time of the year. And this area is one of the places in Costa Rica that has yet to hit its stride as far as real estate prices go.
EASY LIVING… AT A REASONABLE PRICE
How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica? The short answer is: whatever you want… You can spend just about as much or as little as you want. Expats in Costa Rica can live on as little as $1,400 per month, sometimes even less. To do this, you may have to forego some things, like expensive restaurants and frequent shopping sprees—but that’s not what most people move to Costa Rica for.
For sure you can live like a rock star in Costa Rica on $4,000 per month. Most expats, though, report that they are living quite happily and without sacrifices on a monthly budget of $1,500 to $2,500.
The cost of living in Costa Rica will also depend on where you live. If you choose to live in the Central Valley, for instance, where you won’t need heat or air conditioning, your monthly expenses will be very low, indeed. Then you can afford to treat yourself with things you might not afford at home…like a maid and gardener, spa days, and more…
Housekeepers and gardeners are inexpensive in Costa Rica—usually about $40 a week. Live-in maids, however, are governed by a law that requires a minimum wage of $180 per month, plus food and lodging.
Expats are usually delighted when they first go shopping in Costa Rica. Prices at most supermarkets average about 60% below U.S. levels, and produce is even cheaper at outdoor markets. As a general rule, locally grown produce is the best value, while some imported goods can be relatively expensive. Costa Rica has several excellent supermarket chains, including Auto Mercado and Megasuper, which are now competing with branches of Walmart, Target, and other American big-box retailers.
As well as being able to live cheaply in Costa Rica, you can also live comfortably with all the conveniences of home. The centrally located capital city of San José boasts modern shopping malls and world-class hospitals. And reliable high-speed Internet is available just about everywhere.
TOP-QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE
Many medical experts say that Costa Rica offers some of the best health care in Latin America. The World Health Organization praises Costa Rica for its exceptional government-run health care system, and has ranked it better than the U.S., despite spending far less on health care per capita. This achievement is the result of a large government investment in the health sector. The influx of foreigners in Costa Rica has also been a big incentive for private hospitals to open and expand their operations. www.InternationalLiving.com
Costa Rica’s top-quality health care is inexpensive—on average about a third of what you’d pay in the U.S. Doctors, for instance, rarely charge more than $60 a visit, and most of them charge considerably less, even for house calls. Yes, many physicians in Costa Rica still make house calls!
Medications are also much cheaper, especially at pharmacies outside the tourist areas of San José. And don’t worry about a prescription when you buy medicine in Costa Rica. Pharmacies don’t usually require them, except for strong painkillers that could become addictive. Drugstores are even allowed to prescribe medicines, including on-the-spot injections.
In 2010, the government made it mandatory for residence applicants to become members of Costa Rica’s universal health care system. The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), commonly known as CAJA, is the government agency that is affiliated with nearly three dozen public hospitals in the country and many small clinics in almost every community. Foreigners can have regular access for a small monthly fee.
Keep in mind that the Caja’s low cost and high quality attract many to its hospitals and clinics, and wait times are long for anything from a routine check-up to an important surgical procedure.
You can also buy private insurance—most plans cover dental work, optometry, and cosmetic surgery in the case of an accident. Prescription drugs, certain medical exams, sick visits and hospitalization are covered at 70% cost, and surgeon and aesthetician costs are covered at full cost. Private medical insurance in Costa Rica currently costs about $100 per month per person, depending on age, gender, and other factors.
The Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) (the government-owned insurance monopoly) provides low-cost health insurance that entitles citizens and foreigners access to doctors, private hospitals, laboratories, and other medical facilities. For more information, see www.ins-cr.com/index.html.
And don’t worry about language issues—many doctors speak English and have received training in Europe, Canada, or the U.S.
LOW, LOW TAXES
In Costa Rica, the taxation of individuals is based on the principle of territoriality, meaning that all personal income, which has a foreign source, is tax exempt. Only revenue earned by an individual within Costa Rica is subject to an assessment by the tax authorities. So, you’ll pay zero income taxes on your foreign-earned income…very good news.
And if you buy a home in Costa Rica, your annual property taxes will be laughably low. Habitation taxes are levied on the cadastral value of the property as assessed by the tax authorities. These taxes are levied by the municipalities at the flat rate of 0.25% meaning you’ll probably pay between $200 and $300 in most cases. And Costa Rica has no capital gains tax unless derived from habitual transactions. Then they are taxed at the standard income tax rate.
A VARIETY OF VISA OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM
Although there are five categories of residence, most expats, especially retirees, opt for the Pensionado Program. It requires proof that you have at least $1,000 a month in income from Social Security, disability, a pension, or other retirement plan.
You won’t be able to work as an employee in Costa Rica, but you can own a company and receive dividends from it. As a pensionado, you must remain in the country at least four months each year, and the program includes a spouse and dependents under 18 years of age.
Here are a couple of the other popular visa options:
• The Rentista Program is for people without fixed retirement income. It requires proof of$2,500 monthly income for at least two years or a $60,000 deposit in a Costa Rican bank approved by immigration authorities.
• If you want to invest at least $200,000 in Costa Rica, you can become a resident under the Inversionista Program, which applies only to investors, not their families.
These are just some of the reasons we love Costa Rica…along with its safe and stable government, the fact that the country has a 100% literacy rate, and 99% of its energy comes from renewable sources (which means dollar savings for you). It’s no wonder the Costa Ricans are the happiest people on the planet.
This is according to the Happy Planet Index, an independent think tank founded to study environmental impact and human well-being. They say: “Costa Ricans report the highest life satisfaction in the world, have the second-highest average life expectancy of the Americas (second only to Canada).”
1 km south of the public school of Tres Esquinas.
Tres Esquinas, Los Ángeles de La Fortuna, Alajuela, Costa Rica.
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