Despite increasing interest from investors and vacation-home owners, properties continue to change hands at a quarter of what comparable real estate would sell for in southern California.
Officially known as the country’s Southern Zone, the area is one of the most biodiverse regions in Costa Rica—home to howler monkeys, toucans, sloths and hundreds of other species, as well as lush plant life that ranges from towering tropical hardwood trees to delicate orchids.
“Property prices in this area start at $150,000 for simple digs, going up to multi-millions for the luxury palaces favored by wealthy vacation-home owners,” says Holland.
“So it may not be dirt cheap. But with oceanview homes starting at the low $200,000s, prices are a quarter of what you’d pay for similar property on the southern California coast, for example.”
About 20 minutes inland from the beach, prices drop. There residents forgo an ocean view in favor of a mountain and jungle landscape. Many long-term residents say they prefer this locale to being right on the ocean. Away from the coast, property values are greater—less expense, more house. And, at 1,000 feet, the weather is cooler.
The Southern Zone extends to the border with Panama and into the Osa Peninsula, site of the huge Corcovado National Park. Expats who live there enjoy good surfing and sport fishing around the peninsula. But the majority of expat residents are concentrated around the towns of Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal…and the land in between.
The region has received increased attention in recent years thanks to the completion of the coastal highway in 2010, which cut drive time from the capital, San José, and the international airport there to three hours. That has spurred development.
However, this part of Costa Rica will never be home to fast-paced beach resorts. There’s a cap of three stories on buildings—so no condo towers or big hotels. There’s a large national park, Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, which covers much of the shoreline here—so no communities or resorts or cookie-cutter subdivisions near the ocean.
“On my last trip I discovered that ocean views won’t break the bank,” says Holland. “On a just-over-one-acre lot, is a 1,900-square-foot, one-bedroom home with large terrace, fully furnished. Located in the mountains above Uvita, it offers a full view of the ocean. There’s plenty of room to build on the property, which is listed at $289,000.”
Another three-bedroom home with a more limited ocean-view on just under an acre, is available for $219,000. Set at 700 feet, it’s in prime position to take advantage of cooling sea breezes.
The full report on the property market in southern Costa Rica, which appeared in the December edition of International Living magazine, can be read here: Property at Affordable Prices on Costa Rica Southern Coast.
See here for photos of Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific coast: In Pictures: The Rugged Charms of Costa Rica’s Southern Zone.
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