"Pura Vida". Pure Life. A term associated with Costa Rica, for good reason. Joaquin Duenas of Axiom Costa Rica offers some insight, tips and options for buying a property in an area he knows well.
Why is Costa Rica, and areas such as Ballena Beach in particular, an attractive destination for foreign buyers?
Costa Rica is an economically and politically stable country, with a real estate market which investors and industry analysts view as one of the safest emerging international markets.
The country has forgone military spending in lieu of healthcare and education and is also considered to be one of the safest countries in Latin America.
Costa Rican real estate investments rose by 15-20% annually prior to the economic crisis of 2008. The market has rebounded and Costa Ballena values are projected to rise rapidly over the next few years, with projected annual gains of 5-10% for the foreseeable future.
Rental income in Costa Rica also offers high returns, with market demand in the Costa Ballena region currently exceeding supply.
Furthermore, Costa Rican property tax rates are extremely low, ranging from 0.25% to 0.55% for multi-million dollar homes. The country also imposes no capital gains tax on property sold. Amazing!
Additionally, in terms of protecting your investment, the Costa Rican legal system and its real estate laws afford the same treatment and protection to foreign investors as they do to Costa Rican nationals.
What sets Ballena Beach apart from more mainstream destinations such as the Caribbean islands?
Costa Ballena is a narrow stretch of coastal land where the mountains meet the Pacific Ocean, nestled into the most bio-diverse region of Costa Rica.
The setting provides buyers with the best of all possible worlds and is conducive to a multitude of lifestyle choices under the umbrella of very strict environmental protection.
Élan at Ballena delivers a panoramic blend of inward and outward beauty, from contemporary decors and comforts, to beach proximity, rainforest living and dramatic mountain vistas.
As a result of Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental protection, the region has attracted only the most experienced and capable builders, who have developed high quality homes that seamlessly blend into the region’s natural beauty.
Developments like Élan were conceived with Costa Rica’s ‘Pura Vida’ at heart, which embraces a very laid-back lifestyle focused on healthy outdoor living. While designed as communities themselves,
Axiom’s developments also encourage residents to embrace their surrounding communities, comprised of friendly locals and expats primarily from North America and Europe.
Élan at Ballena offers Robinson Crusoe dreams in the heart of one of the world’s few remaining ecological treasures, engulfed in the sights and sounds of rainforest life and just steps from golden sands that stretch for miles.
Other issues that set Costa Rica apart from other Caribbean destinations is the availability of modern goods and services, particularly in the capital city, San José, where designer malls are commonplace.
Additionally, Costa Rica is blessed with one of the best healthcare systems in Latin America. Expats can access the country’s government-run universal healthcare system for a very reasonable monthly fee, or they may opt to pay for private healthcare services, with costs being approximately 20-30% of similar services offered in the United States.
What kinds of properties are most popular and roughly how much would they cost?
The Costa Ballena region offers some of Costa Rica’s best priced real estate, with options ranging from condominiums and villas, to townhouses and luxury homes.
Within close proximity of the U.S., Costa Ballena offers affordable luxury that would cost at least 10 times more along the California coastline, with bungalows, townhouses and condominiums starting at less than USD$400,000.
The region offers price points for every level of investor and lifestyle.
Within the Axiom collection, Élan at Ballena offers luxurious condominium living in the rainforest, with direct access to a sparsely populated beach, beginning at USD$390,000.
The company is also scheduled to complete Phase I of The Terraces at San Martin by the end of 2016, which is best described as luxurious treehouse living with inspirational coastal views. Ocean view luxury villas at The Terraces at San Martin start at USD$590,000.
In the cloud forest of the neighboring mountains above, Axiom’s Sierra Collection offers breathtaking views overlooking the Central Valley and Pacific coastline from 2,000 feet above sea level, with private estates starting at just USD$2.9 million.
Are there any restrictions that buyers should be aware of?
Most restrictions involved in owning property in Costa Rica apply to the development process, with developers held to an exceptionally high level of standards.
Axiom’s turnkey developments allow buyers to avoid that whole process, while providing quality builds that adhere to the strictest standards in Costa Rica.
Restrictions for buyers are quite limited in Costa Rica, with fee simple ownership laws that allow buyers to own, sell, lease or renovate their properties at will.
The country also offers a relatively easy and straightforward path to residency for foreign property owners, but buyers may also live in the country as non-residents for up to 90 days at a time.
Axiom also extends protection to buyers through the administration of an escrow account, which guarantees the builder’s financial health, while releasing buyer funds only upon completion of contracted steps.
What advice would you offer to potential buyers looking at purchasing a property in Costa Rica?
The decision to invest in any foreign market requires extensive research on behalf of a potential buyer.
Protecting your investment is a priority, but research should also be applied to understanding the characteristics of the market you are considering, including the culture and stability of the country.
While every investment opportunity carries risks, Costa Rica has emerged as a compelling argument for overseas investors due to its ROI and growth potential, but also its inclusive real estate laws, its low property taxes and its exclusion of capital gains.
Costa Rica also offers foreign investors the added security of outright legal ownership, as opposed to some foreign markets that require that property owned by foreigners be held in trust.