San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Real Estate Prices Countrywide: A Brief Overview

What’s the difference between the Costa Rican real estate market and an atomic bomb? Absolutely nothing!

Well, come to think of it, Costa Rican real estate won’t cause genetic mutations, hasn’t been the reason for hundreds of thousands of deaths, and didn’t cause widespread paranoia during the Cold War era that prompted schools in the United States to

practice drills in which teachers commanded terrified schoolchildren to hide under their desks.

The point is, real estate here is booming.

And there’s something for every taste, from million-dollar homes in affluent Central Valley suburbs such as Escazú, to villas with glorious beachfront views for the family, to plots of old farm land out in the country that can be turned into the ideal remote getaway.

It all depends on what you’re looking for.

There are some great fixer-uppers in the Central Valley, where growth has waxed and waned for years, leaving behind some potential gems for buyers that don’t mind brushing off the dust.

On the beaches, there are countless villas, condos and homes that give owners access to the ocean. Shack up here and you’ll be a stone’s throw from some of the best waves in the world (if you like to hang ten), world-class sportfishing (if you like to bust out the old rod) or the simplicity of whipping out your beach towel and soaking up some rays (forget your sunscreen and you’ll become a camarón).

Up in the north, there are lakeside views of windswept ArenalLake and the contiguous lava-spurting volcano of the same name. Here, you really have the chance to take a bite of Costa Rican culture and mingle with the locals. In the Southern Zone, acres and acres of tucked-away land are hidden quietly in tropical forest.

Shopping for real estate in Costa Rica can be an experience in itself and a chance to see some of the most beautiful parts of this biodiverse, sun-drenched country.

But beware: snags and red tape abound in Costa Rica. Buying property will take some homework, so be prepared. You’ll have to make sure you don’t get ripped off. But overall, Costa Rica is a pleasant country that welcomes foreign investment.

So slip on your shopping boots and get ready to hit the market. Options and price ranges abound, so you’ll probably find whatever it is you’re looking for.

Sean McGraw, head of Coldwell Banker Vesta Group Costa Rica (288-2268,, says a two- to three-bedroom unit with a view of the beach and easy highway access near Playa Dominical, on the southern Pacific coast, starts in the mid-$300,000 range.

In Manuel Antonio, on the central Pacific coast, the same kind of property can cost twice as much, he says.

“In Jacó (north of Manuel Antonio), you’re still finding some interesting deals,” he said. “It’s a tourist town, it’s active, it’s a young crowd.”

In Jacó, condos in high-rise 15-story buildings are now available. Prices can range anywhere from $200,000 to $700,000 in what is now a diverse market, McGraw said. For instance, at St. Regis in Playa Herradura, just north of Jacó, one-bedroom units can cost $600,000.

“That’s a full luxury market,” he said.

In the western San José suburb of Escazú, where Coldwell Banker has an office, condos range from the mid-$100,000s to the mid-$200,000s. Nicer residences can run from $400,000 up to million-dollar homes. He says the diplomatic community is buying up a few of those in the western Central Valley.

Costa Rican Chamber of Real Estate Agents President Emilia Piza says price ranges depend on a number of factors: location, topography, urbanization and the size of a lot, for example. The more property one buys, the cheaper it becomes per square meter, she says.

According to Piza, luxury condos on the coast can cost anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million. In the northwestern province of Guanacaste, constructions cost an average $1,500 per square meter. But she says a buyer can also find a lot in a nice location where constructions are as cheap as $150 per square meter.

In the Central Valley, Piza says, western areas such as Escazú and Santa Ana (developments such as Valle del Sol) are the hottest today. And on the coast, it’s Guanacaste and Jacó.

Les Nunez, owner of First Realty Pacific Beach Properties in Guanacaste (672-1181), says a two-bedroom, two-bath house starts in the high $200,000s.

“But when you start talking single-family homes with any views, you’re $450,000 and up,” he said.

Nor is it uncommon to find million-dollar properties out there, in places such as Playa Hermosa, Playa Panamá and the Gulf of Papagayo.

Nunez adds that in Golfito, on the southern Pacific coast, a planned marina megaproject could soon bump up prices there (TT, Sept. 29, 2006).


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