Background: In November of 2016 I suggested to my now husband (Nathaniel) that we consider buying Real Estate in a foreign country. We had recently become very frustrated with the Real Estate market in the San Francisco Bay Area (because we are not millionaires – duh) and had been considering buying out of the area already for investment purposes. I speak Spanish and we have traveled extensively in Latin America (on motorcycles) so the idea wasn’t as scary as you might expect.
I am going to be blogging more about this in detail but I wanted to start from the beginning by creating a series of blog posts that answer the top questions people ask when they find out we bought property in Costa Rica.
One of the VERY first things people ask is Why Costa Rica?
You may begin by assuming that I love the beach but I really don’t. I don’t particular enjoy being at the beach and I don’t enjoy swimming in the ocean. Swimming in particular is one of my least favorite activities but I recognize that most normal humans (without body image issues) generally love vacationing near water and the planet is mostly covered with the stuff.
Our general list of concerns for picking a property were as follows:
- Tourism (Potential for Vacation Rental)
- Potential appreciation over a 5-10 year period
- Friendliness to foreign investment
- Could see ourselves living at the location
- Proximity to California (For follow up visits)
I have lived in Mexico and I have a great deal of family in the landlocked state of Tlaxcala who could theoretically assist with any property management but after much consideration we decided Americans as a general population still have too much fear when it comes to visiting the country.
Based on the American fear criteria Mexico was stricken from the list along with El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia (which we actually love).
Potential for Appreciation
The affordable properties of El Salvador and Honduras stayed off the list because we don’t foresee their rough and tumble reputations changing significantly in a 10-year period.
Because of our hopes for strong 10-year appreciation we wanted to try to buy something near water which heavily factored into my search once we settled on Costa Rica.
Friendliness to foreign investment
Because of my family in Mexico we were still really tempted to take a look at properties there but once we realized how regulated foreign investment is along the coast lines it kept dropping down the list of potential countries.
It was during this time I discovered how generous the Costa Rican rules were by comparison and Costa Rica started to climb in the rankings… There is also a massive expat population constantly looking for a place to live in CR.
Could see ourselves living at the location
On this criteria alone Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica rank (and in that order). Nathaniel and I love Colombia and Argentina but Argentina is a pretty gnarly (and expensive) flight from California should anything come up with a potential investment.
Referring back to the other criteria we don’t foresee a huge swing in property values happening in Guatemala in the next 10 years.
Proximity to California
Buying a first property in South America becomes a daunting prospect when you consider you might need to start visiting your purchase on a regular basis till you hit a rhythm with your rental ambitions. Flight prices to South America can swing much higher much more quickly when compared to flights to Mexico and Central American locations so everything below Panama suffered in our rankings based on this criteria.
Our budget was how we arrived to the idea of buying in Latin America in the first place but we were confidant as we zeroed in on Costa Rica that we could buy an amazing house at this price. *Spoiler – there were some surprises with this assumption.
After much discussion and the weighing of our criteria we settled on Costa Rica and I booked fights for January of 2017 to go house hunting!
House Hunting in Costa Rica : Coming Soon