Buying a Fixer-Upper Allowed Me to Find My Dream Home in Costa Rica

A fixer-upper in a foreign country could sound like a big, and potentially intimidating, project to many expats. But for Terry Anderson, this was the best decision for his family—his wife and two children.

Tamarindo, Costa Rica has become home for Terry and his family. He says their new home and the lifestyle that accompanies it would cost them far more in the United States. “We’re tropical people, the climate is perfect for us and we get to spend time outside and enjoy nature all year long,” says Terry. “Not to mention the experience of living in another country amongst another culture…that alone has been invaluable, both for us and our children.

“My wife and I lived and worked in this community for seven years before we were ready to buy and in that time all of our networking paid off. We ended up getting to personally know the owner of the home we were interested in, and I knew I’d be able to structure a deal with him that would work for both of us.”

Tamarindo, is a small community, which Terry says played to his advantage when he decided he was ready to buy. The home Terry and his wife decided on sits upon a hillside with an unadulterated jungle and ocean view. “As the area becomes more developed, our proximity to the ocean and the view from our home was really important to us—both signify prime real estate.” At nearly 2,400 square feet, the home had plenty of space for his family but required quite a bit of work. “I started working on a budget based on the renovations we wanted to make, and saw the upside to doing the renovation would be immeasurable in comparison with trying to buy something that was ready to go but still met our requirements.”

Terry says, now that the project is complete, they’re more confident than ever that taking on a renovation was the perfect way to develop their dream home. “It’s a gorgeous open floor plan, nice and airy,” says Terry. “We wanted the house to be classy and simple—the focal point is the ocean view, that’s our favorite thing about the house and the main reason we selected this property. You can make changes to the house, but not the view. We have a million-dollar view now without having spent a million dollars, you can’t beat that.”

They purchased the home for $325,000 and ended up spending $130,000 in renovations. “This is higher than our original budget and would be my first tip for people. While this route was still worth it, it’s definitely a process you need to be prepared to be patient with in regard to timeline and budget,” said Terry.

Having finished the complete renovation earlier this year, Terry’s home has been appraised at $650,000 if he were to turn around and sell it today. “I immediately have an upside of nearly $200,000. And I know the location of the property and the view will never be hindered. The property will only continue to increase in value. If I had purchased a $650,000 home, it would still be worth about the same today, so if you’re looking for a faster return, this is the way to go.”

Among some of Terry and his family’s favorite things about Tamarindo is the access to outdoor activity. “We can do anything we want, from surfing to running or hiking and mountain biking,” he said. “We’re outside and active all the time, this town is set up perfectly for an incredibly healthy lifestyle.”

“I can’t imagine a better place to live at this point—the environment we have here would be far more expensive if we were back in the United States,” Terry says. “We can wear shorts and flip flops every day of the year, walk to the beach in minutes and, now, we can enjoy a million-dollar view from the comfort of our own home.”

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