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Costa Rica Guide - Costa Rica Real Estate

Real Estate Information

Real estate discussions around the world constantly feature mentions of Costa Rica’s advantageous real estate opportunities. Hopefully we will explain the benefits of Costa Rica and why Costa Rican real estate is so diverse, safe and lucrative.

Costa Rica is a country of microclimates and extremely distinct regions. Almost unbelievably, most of these diverse regions are extremely appealing to many individuals.

While some love Costa Rican beaches, others are attracted to the cooler climates and nightlife of the Central Valley. Yet others come to Costa Rica for natural wonders such as tropical forests, volcanoes and waterfalls, and still others are attracted to the island lifestyle enjoyed on the Caribbean Coast.

Major businesses are attracted by Costa Rica’s investor friendly laws and government. A signer of CAFTA, Costa Rica is committed to protecting investors’ rights and ensuring future free commerce.

Also, property taxes in Costa Rica rarely exceed 1% (very few beachfront properties are subject to a different tax structure), and most properties are usually subject to an annual .25% tax. When compared to tax levels in vacation and retirement hot spots around the world, it is no surprise that Costa Rica is booming.

While some areas have already seen double digit yearly value increases over the past 5 years, Costa Rica still has immense tracts of virgin land where the boom is only just beginning.

Costa Rican constitutional law ensures that all, citizens and foreigners, have the right to own real estate in Costa Rica. While some foreigners choose to own property in their own name, it is very common to open a corporation and purchase property, with a lawyers help, in their corporations name.

All foreigners should remember that Costa Rica does have squatter’s rights, and landowners should always have someone go to their property once every six months. While a corporation will do nothing to help with squatter issues, it still may be very beneficial for foreign investors.

Having a corporation with shares allows for easy transfer of property ownership. Also, transferring your shares of a corporation, when selling a property, is an easy way to ensure that you will not be paying property transfer taxes. Finally, paying corporate taxes on your property in Costa Rica may be cheaper than paying personal income or gains tax on the property.

General Information

Office Hours in Costa Rica

These vary according to the company or institution.

Most government offices are open to the public from 8:00 a.m. up until 4:00 p.m. Private companies open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Shops and business open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in most cases. Others keep a 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. working day. In the capital, there are supermarkets which are open right round the clock.

Banking and Currency

Local and international services are available at both state and private banking institutions. Banking hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (without a break). Evening banking services are also available from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The official currency is the "colón" and the exchange rate against the dollar can vary. US dollars can be changed at any one of the National Banking System banks although they are accepted throughout the country.

Credit Cards and Travelers checks

Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the county, but VISA seems to be the most commonly seen. Some smaller business will only accept cash. Travelers checks can be easily cashed but some banks will only accept a certain kind. Banks also usually require your passport in order to cash these checks.


Arrivals are allowed 500 cigarettes plus five filters of wine or spirits duty free.

Public Transport

Costa Rica has a large fleet of taxis, easily identified by their red color. In rural areas the taxis are four-wheel drive models for travel off-the-beaten track. Orange colored taxis provide service to and from the Juan Santa María International Airport. Bus services are available, both within and between provinces, as well as internationally. Similarly, Inter-urban train services cover the Heredia -San José and Pavas-San José routes. A river ferry provides regular service across the Tempisque River and seagoing ferry services (Salinero) departs from Puntarenas to cross the Gulf of Nicoya.

Road Network

Costa Rica has a network of paved roads and highways which enables traveling throughout the country and links the country with other Central American countries. There is also a network of secondary roads.

Postal Systems

National network of offices.


110-volt AC is found nation wide. A few outlying areas use their own power source so check ahead before traveling.

Entry Requirements

Citizens from Canada, the U.S. ad Panama can enter with just a tourist card and other one piece of identification, such as a passport, driver's license or birth certificate. No passport is required. Citizens of all others countries require a valid passport to enter. Visas are needed by certain nationalities so check ahead before traveling.


Costa Rica is democratic republic. Elections are held every four years.


Health care in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout San Jose and some of the others largely populated areas.


Spanish is the official language. English is spoken in tourist areas throughout the country.


Costa Rica has a population of 4 million people. Over thirty percent live in the Central Valley which comprises only 4% of the entire country.


There is a 13% sales tax at hotels, restaurants and most service industries, and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.


Direct-dial service is efficient and there are more telephones per capita than in any other Latin American country. International calls can be dialed direct from any point in Costa Rica . There are public telephones throughout the entire country and when these are not available, operator assisted telephones.

Bilingual operator assistance for international calls is -116
Local information -113
Long distance information -124.


Costa Rica has 4 daily newspapers and several weekly publications in Spanish as well as weekly and monthly publications in English and German. Magazines covering a wide range of interesting and useful subject are also published. A large number of stations broadcast in F.M. and A.M. throughout Costa Rica. Television channels broadcast in both Spanish and English. Cable television is also available in both languages, and some hotels have satellite connections.

Time Zone

Costa Rica is the same as U.S. central standard time but does not observe daylight savings time (GMT -6:00).


A 10% tip in a restaurant is appropriate, but most restaurants add it directly to your bill, so check whether this the case before paying an additional tip. Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip. Tour guides generally do.


Costa Rica is bordered to the north by Nicaragua and to the south by Panama. It has both a Caribbean and a Pacific coats. A series of volcanic mountain chains runs from the Nicaragua border in the northwest to the Panamanian border in the south east, splitting the country in two. In the center of these ranges is a high-altitude plain, with coastal lowlands on either side. Over half the population lives on this pain, which has fertile volcanic soils. The Caribbean coast is 132 miles long Pacific coast in 635 miles long.


Unless specified otherwise, the water is safe to drink in all areas of the country.

Other useful information

Airport Info


Airlines- International

Air France 280-0069 Alitalia 222-6138 American 257-1266 British Airways 223-5648 Continental 296-4911 COPA 222-6640 Cubana de Aviacion 290-5095 Delta 257-2992 Grupo Taca 257-9444 Iberia 257-8266 KLM 220-4119 LACSA 296-0909 Lufthansa 256-6161 LTU 234-9292 Mexicana 257-6334 SAM 233-3066 United 220-4844 Varig 290-5222

Airlines- Domestic

SANSA 257-0408 Travelair 232-7883 Taxi Aereo 441-1626 Veasa 232-1010 COPA 222-6640

Cruise Lines - Domestic

Bay Island Cruises 258-3536 Calypso Tours 256-2727 Costa Sol Cruises 661-2139 Cruseros del Sur 232-8487 Temptress Adventures 220-1679 Valeros del Sur 661-1320

Buses - Internacional

Tica Bus 221-9229

Costa Rica Guide - Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica, come visit and stay!