Costa Rica is one of the most popular and well-known vacation, second-home, and retirement destinations for North Americans, and renting in Costa Rica is a great way to experience life in Costa Rica while looking for your own place under the tropical sun.
Much of Costa Rica’s lush tropical forests and sun-splashed shoreline has been designated as national parkland or reserve. Costa Rica is rapidly approaching carbon-neutral status in energy production and emissions, and its health care system is one of the most affordable and highly rated in the world.
All of this and more makes Costa Rica a perfect option for ecologically minded retirees and second home buyers who want to experience their tropical dreams in a stable democracy.
Renting in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a lot of options when it comes to rental locations. All you have to do is choose where renting in Costa Rica makes most sense to you.
The Central Highlands: Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose lies in the central mountains, where the altitude combines with lush vegetation to produce a nearly ideal climate. Rents can run from a few hundred dollars per month in the city center to hundreds of dollars a night in the desirable suburbs of Alajuela, Escazu, San Pedro, and Santa Ana, with a mixture of houses and condos available.
In the popular upscale suburb of Escazu, for example, a fully furnished, three- bedroom, 2.5-bathroom condo with TV room, panoramic views from the living and dining rooms, master bedroom with walk in closet, and full maid’s quarters rents for $3,100 per month. On the grounds are swimming pool, Jacuzzi, jogging paths, BBQ, and tennis court.
Nearby Grecia and, farther to the northwest, the Lake Arenal area, are popular with folks who want to be in the mountains, but away from the big city. The scenery is like Switzerland without the snow. Condos are not as plentiful here, but apartments and rental houses can be found throughout the area in a variety of price ranges.
Just outside Grecia is a one-bedroom apartment with full kitchen, dining area, cable TV and wireless Internet for $450 per month. (See this video to find out why I think Grecia is a great place to explore.)
Renting at the beach in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s northern Pacific beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world and have recently been developed extensively. Vacation rentals are expensive here and are mostly found in the new condo and apartment complexes overlooking the exquisite beaches.
On Flamingo Beach in Guanacaste is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo with air conditioning, bar, fully equipped kitchen, grill, and maid service every third day for $1,200 per week during the high season (November 15 to April 30), and $1,050 during the low season.
The beaches along Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast have been a haven for surfers for years. Some of the best surfing in the world can be found here, and in towns like Dominical, Jaco, and Nosara it used to be possible to find inexpensive surf accommodations by the night or week.
These options still exist, but development has brought high-end development to the area as well, making renting in Costa Rica’s surf zone a matter of choosing your level of comfort and amenities.
For rent in Jaco, just a short walk to the beach, is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,450 square foot condo with air conditioning, Internet, cable TV, parking, and 24-hour security for $140 per night.
Costa Rica’s Southern Beaches
Just a few years ago, the drive from the international airport in San Jose to Costa Rica’s vast and largely untouched southern Pacific beach took all day and then some.
Now, however, the new coastal road in complete and most of the bridges are finished, making it possible to reach extraordinary beaches like the ones around Uvita and Ojochal in just a few hours. (See this video on Ojochal from IL’s Latin America Editorial Director Suzan Haskins, who explains why Ojochal is high on her list of dream retirement destinations.)
The area has been in a rush to build up infrastructure for the new tide of visitors to the area, and renting in Costa Rica’s southern beach zone is now becoming more popular. A mix of new eco-lodges and planned developments, along with long-established rustic and nearly off-the-grid beach hotels offer a range of choices for rentals.
For example, in Ojochal you can rent a two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom villa that includes a terrace, kitchen, bar, laundry room and swimming pool for $900 per month.
Rental prices in Costa Rica are on a par with a destination that has so much going for it. It’s not a new market, but there are new options in nearly every established area. And as one old Costa Rica hand puts it, “Lots of places compare themselves with Costa Rica, but there is only one genuine article, and you get what you pay for… stability, good infrastructure, great health care, and a proven reputation as an expat haven.”
All this makes renting in Costa Rica one of the best bets in the Americas.
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