I can always tell where my clients come from by their “sticker shock”.
A client from Oklahoma once said “$1 Million dollars ???!!! Do you know what I can buy for $1M dollars???!!! I can buy half of Oklahoma.” My clients from Malibu California or Hilton Head Island say “$1 Million dollars? What a bargain. I’ll take 3.” If you are going to judge the value of something you have to compare Apples to Apples.
In my opinion Costa Rica is still very inexpensive compared to other warm weather resort destinations. Now, it’s not cheap, but you still get a tremendous amount for your money. If you want cheap, you have to go to third world countries like Nicaragua. But remember you get what you pay for. Costa Rica has the charm of a third world Latin country, but we have first world infrastructure, from state of the art hospitals and telecommunications to upgraded roads and electricity. Our grocery stores are as nice as any in the USA and Canada and the modern conveniences of home, like Cable and Satellite TV and high speed Internet is available everywhere.
But you really do get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to real estate, especially these days, and carrying costs are a fraction of what they are in other resort destinations. Condos that are currently on the market for $100 to $200k sell for three to five times that much on most Caribbean Islands. Homes that we have for $300k sell for $2 M in Cabo San Lucas Mexico and the Cayman Islands. Rock star homes on the hill for $1 Million here in Costa Rica are $10 to $20 Million in Hawaii or Laguna Beach California.
It’s not just the price of the real estate either that drives so many people to Costa Rica. The cost to live here is substantially less as well. I tell my clients, you can’t just base your numbers on the first year you move to CR, because you are going to spend some money that year. You will have to buy your house or condo, buy a car, purchase furniture, insurance, cell phone and personal items that give you the comforts of home. For some it is a Big Screen TV and a satellite dish and for others it is exercise equipment or a boat or Jet Ski. But once you take that bite, living here is substantially less. Sure some items are more, because they are imported from the USA. But you don’t have to buy those items. Costa Rica ice cream is BETTER than Haagen Dazs. The local cream cheese blows away Philadelphia’s. If you have to have your pretzels or Eggo frozen waffles, then you will pay a little markup but heh, if you have to have your Roldgolds man hahahaha.
But if you take ALL the costs of living here over a 10 year period, from property taxes to maid service, groceries to auto repair, eating out in nice restaurants to drinking cocktails on the beach, Medical care and Dental care, you will find that it is about 30 % of what is costs to live in another tropical destination. Even if you are a huge spender, it will still be HALF. And to boot the Costa Rican people are the friendliest and happiest in the world. So if you ask me, real estate is a bargain here in Costa Rica.
But it won’t be for long. With the expansion of the new Liberia airport, dozens of 4 and 5 star resorts starting construction again, new exciting places like Hard Rock Café, improved roads, hospitals and better shopping, it will only be a matter of time before Costa Rica will see home prices really start to rise again. Then you will be asking yourself why we didn’t buy 2 or 3 years ago when I had the chance. Hurry down; we will be waiting for you with a cold cocktail and a wide smile!