The Rental Market in Costa Rica: A Breakdown
In the Central Valley, western San José is a bustling market for Costa Rica’s middle-upper class and a constant influx of foreigners wanting to be in the middle of San Jose’s latest suburban boom, in areas such as Escazú and Santa Ana, according to Alvaro Riva of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in San José (670-0807). But the Central Valley has renting options for everyone, from the mountainside views of Heredia to the traditional Tico neighborhoods in Alajuela, conveniently located near the airport.
Outside of the Central Valley, tourismrelated growth up and down the Pacific coast and in parts of the Caribbean region has created a growing market for shortterm beach rentals, according to Linda Gray, who owns Coldwell Banker offices on the Pacific coast.
A booming construction industry has created a shortage of rentals for the growing number of construction workers and security guards in the country’s beach communities, Gray said. And though growth persists on the coast, few builders are interested in building rentals, which means beach rental prices are steadily increasing, according to Gray.
One-bedroom apartments are hard to find, said Adela Ruffatti of Urbanizaciones del Poniente.
“It’s not that customary for people to live alone; at least, it wasn’t until a short time ago,” she said. “What is more common is when kids leave home, a family will start to rent out some rooms.”
However, Scotland Apartments (223-0833, 223-0033) offers furnished one-bedroom apartments for $650 a month in San José.
Such rooms and other student-type housing are available in and around the eastern suburb of San Pedro, home to the University of Costa Rica.
Rental apartments come furnished and unfurnished. Landlords will typically require a deposit equal to one month’s rent, which must be returned to the renter within 30 days of vacating the premises (TT, Feb. 24).
The search for a place to rent can begin in The Tico Times classifieds or in the classifieds of Spanish-language dailies such as La Nación.
Real estate agents may be a possibility for people with bigger budgets. A list of realtors in Costa Rica can be found on the Web sites of the Costa Rica Real Estate Brokers Board (www.camaracbr.or.cr) and the Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors (www.costaricare.net).
To help those looking to rent get started, The Tico Times enlisted the help of Gray and Riva at Coldwell Banker to give an overview of the Costa Rica renting market, from the bustling Central Valley to popular beach areas.
Escazú is a booming rental market driven by a deluge of foreigners and middle-class Costa Ricans coming to the green hills of this western San José suburb with its dozens of high-rise condominiums, convenient location to malls, nightlife and many services.
But growth here in recent years has overtaxed the infrastructure, particularly the roads, which are often clogged with traffic.
Renters generally sign on for a one-year contract here. A two- to three-bedroom condominium goes for about $1,200 a month, including maintenance. Condominiums will typically be five years or older. Higher-end condos may creep up toward $2,500 a month. Penthouses can range up to $4,000. Houses range from $2,000-5,000 a month.
The Escazú neighborhoods of San Antonio de Escazú and Trejos Montealegre, the neighboring town of Santa Ana and the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser are all seeing rental market booms.
Rivas said the most affordable of the four is Trejos Montealegre, and prices increase into San Antonio de Escazú, and then Santa Ana. New neighborhoods in Santa Ana will be the next big competition for the Escazú market, he added.
East of San José, Lomas de Yarco Norte is a budding rental market five minutes from Terramall shopping center on the highway to Cartago, and is located near private schools, banks, churches and other services. Riva said the biggest advantage of this new area is that the roads are good compared to Escazú, and that electricity and Internet services are some of the best in the Central Valley. Prices are comparable to Escazú.
Twenty years ago, San Pedro was the equivalent of the booming Escazú rental market, but since the eastern suburb has grown up, it has become a location for many office buildings. However, the market is still strong. The University of Costa Rica and Universidad Latina make for an energetic nightlife and culture. Student housing and apartments are available in the $200-400 range.
In Zapote, a middle-to-lower class area in southeastern San José, apartments can be rented for $150-200. Zapote is between downtown San José and the large lower-class area of Desamparados.
In Curridabat, five or 10 minutes east of San Pedro, the neighborhoods of Pinares and Fresas are both growing rental markets, where condominiums are available for $650 up to $2,000. The condos are similar to the types available in Escazú, though many are newer.
Sabanilla is a middle-class neighborhood north of San Pedro where condos can be found for $300-500. Prices in Granadilla, a little farther north, are a bit cheaper.
North of San José, the city of Heredia is about a half-hour from San José. The area is popular among those seeking distance from the city, and offers striking mountain vistas. However, the roads here are clogged, with a lot of smog from traffic. A condo here will run $300-400 a month.
Those who want the convenience of living near the airport can find a place in Alajuela, northwest of San José. Tico culture is more visible in the more traditional city of Alajuela, which is spangled with pulpería corner stores and friendly Ticos. Prices are comparable to Heredia.
The district of Tibás, is an older, middleclass area north of San José, home to the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium. Condos here go for about $200-300 a month.
Like San Pedro, La Sabana was a booming residential area 20 years ago.High-end houses and condominiums can be found near the expansive La Sabana Park. This older neighborhood features a lot of services such as malls and banks, and good bus service. Large, 400-to-500-square-meter homes rent for about $2,500 a month.
Along Costa Rica’s coasts, most rentals are short-term, available for monthly visits, weekly visits or even by the day, according to Gray, who has offices in Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco, on the northern Pacific coast.
Gray said beach rental prices will fluctuate between low and high season, which is December through April.
The most common rentals on the beach are two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominiums, which will cost about $80 a night in low season up to $150 a night during the high season for rentals without an ocean view. Condominiums with an ocean view will cost 20-25% more, she said.
Also popular for beach rentals are villas. A four-bedroom villa in low season would cost $375-450 a night, and up to $600 during high season. Villas usually come with air conditioning, DVD players and “all the bells and whistles,” she said.
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