A Bargain Homestead in Costa Rica For $155,000

You look out from your terrace over a vast tropical garden. You’re surrounded by heliconias and bromeliads in shades of vivid red, bright yellow, orange, and combinations in between, along with orchid blooms. Banana and mango trees are heavy with fruit. It provides the perfect backdrop to a life lived outdoors, thanks to a year-round temperate climate—mid-70s F during the day, cooling off into the 60s F at night.

Rich volcanic soil and healthy rainfall throughout the year have drawn Costa Rican farmers to the country’s Orosi Valley—just 45 minutes from the capital, San José—for centuries. There they mostly grow coffee, chayote, sugar cane, and other crops. And small numbers of in-the-know expats have joined them in recent years. Most tend to be back-to-the-land, pioneering types. They relish the traditional Costa Rican farming communities and the small-town feel that goes with them.

The weather is ideal, with temperatures moderate year-round. The elevation, starting at 3,500 feet in much of the valley, is the reason. This is also one of the rainiest parts of the country. But most expats don’t mind. In fact, many come to welcome the rain, as it keeps everything lush and green year-round and makes for ideal growing conditions.

Here it’s still possible to buy acreage and have a homestead at bargain prices for your homegrown tropical garden or hobby farm. Two, three, five, 10 acres or more in one of Costa Rica‘s most pristine and undiscovered locations—for low prices.

You can buy land with a turn-key home on site…or pick up raw land. With prices starting at under $150,000 for a home with acreage and under $100,000 for acres of farmland.

Combined with Costa Rica’s extremely low property taxes—just 0.25% of the assessed value (that works out to a $500 annual tax payment for a $200,000 home)—and property becomes even more appealing.

And now is the time to get in. This region has not been discovered by the mainstream expat crowd or the real estate industry.

Many homes here are Tico-style. They’re clean and comfortable but tend to have smaller rooms and hot water only in the shower. The refrigerator will be smaller…and usually there’s no dishwasher. A remodel will probably be in your future to bring it up to North American standards.

The good news is that, while most construction materials tend to be about the same price as in North America, the cost of labor is much lower. For hand-crafted items like wooden doors or iron gates, the costs are also low. Tropical hardwoods—suited to the climate—are popular. Construction costs work out to about $90 per square foot.

In the U.S., living on land in the country that is close to the city will easily cost you double or more of what you’d pay in Orosi. There is plenty of raw land, with access to utilities, suitable for building your dream home. For example, on sale now is a three-acre coffee farm, with banana plants, avocado, citrus, and other fruit trees, in the heart of the valley. It’s set on a mountain river. The price: $60,000.

A mountain farm near Lake Cachí (the man-made lake at the heart of the valley), with 10 acres of coffee, fruit trees, and an herb garden, is listed at $155,000. The elevation of 3,700 feet keeps it cool. And there is a freshwater spring on the property. There is a two-bedroom home, and the current owner has dug a pond for fish but hasn’t stocked it yet.

Because this region is off the mainstream radar, prices here are very negotiable. The list price is a suggestion. For this reason, it pays to be patient. Get boots on the ground. Visit for an extended period and drive around looking for se vende (for sale) signs. Get to know people…explore.

Sellers aren’t expecting big paydays the way they are in some other, better-known areas of Costa Rica that have more expats or more tourism. And property buyers benefit from that.

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