At International Living, we always recommend that you rent before you buy. Before you plunk down money on a house or condo in a new place, stay awhile and see if it suits your needs. You might find that although you always dreamed of living on the beach, you discover after a few months that you find the heat and humidity uncomfortable. So you move to the mountains of the Central Valley, which has a more temperate climate. Or you might discover that you prefer one town—or neighborhood—over another. If you buy, it’s much harder to make the transition.

Start your search for a rental on the internet. You’ll find plenty of websites out there. Avoid sites that promote short-term vacation rentals, which can be pricey. Real estate agents in Costa Rica often offer rental properties, so focus your search on real estate sites and the section on “long-term” rentals, which generally means a lease of between three and 12 months.

Rentals come both unfurnished and furnished. And keep in mind that unfurnished can mean there is no refrigerator or washer/dryer. And furnished rentals often come with all the furniture, as well as bed linens, plates, cutlery, and more—totally turn-key. Be sure to find out the status of homes you are interested in so you don’t ship down or buy items you don’t need.

The classified section of online local newspapers is also a good source (especially to get a feel for prices). Locals and expats in an area you’re interested in also make great sources for rental deals. So be sure to network on the ground and let people know you’re searching for a rental.

When speaking with an owner or property manager, keep in mind that the monthly price is negotiable. Don’t hesitate to haggle a bit and ask for a price reduction. Or perhaps they’ll throw in the utilities, weekly maid service, or some other extra. It never hurts to ask.

To give you an idea of prices, here are some examples of rentals in Costa Rica:

    • A two-bedroom, in the jungle near You’re a quick drive from the beach, and you’ll be surrounded by wildlife. You also have access to a community pool. Rent: $500 per month.
    • In Grecia, in the Central Valley, there’s a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home for rent. It features hardwood and stone accents, and the property is full of fruit trees. Enjoy views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Rent: $800 per month
    • In Arenal, is a furnished two-bedroom home with a lakeview. There is a community pool. And it’s just a few miles from Nuevo Arenal, a town with everything you need for daily living. Rent: $1,000 per month.