My Real Estate Journey: Creating Our Perfect Paradise in Costa Rica

Having spent three years of repeated trips, visiting, searching, and investigating all the areas of Costa Rica, we now live in the mountains of central Costa Rica.

Our friends thought we were crazy for moving to Costa Rica, but more about that later.

Buying real estate in Costa Rica is a very easy process, and anyone can do it. But selling is another matter. So, we made sure to do our due diligence.

When we viewed our property, we both wandered the grounds for an hour before we ever entered the house—together, separately, and then together again. We both said, “I don’t care what the house looks like, this is the place.”

It’s a good thing we agreed on that, because the house was a mess. It was originally intended to be a 4,000 square feet “Argentinian-style” restaurant and B&B. It never opened, and the construction was poor and unfinished. However, we both knew that a house can be remodeled, whereas a river, the location, and the views cannot. So, we put in an offer.

The property is three and half acres, and the river runs through the middle of the property on the long axis, so we own both sides of the river. It was a unique find, many places had rivers or streams, but they were always at the boundary of the property.

Our home is in the country, but with easy access to the big city of Cartago. There is a decent size expat community here from around the world, but all of our immediate neighbors are Ticos (Costa Ricans) which we love.

The property had been on the market for over four years (which is not uncommon) and the price was too high (also not uncommon.) The asking price was $500,000. We offered $225,000 and they accepted. We knew we would need to put some money into renovations, so we allowed ourselves $100,000. This kept us under our $350,000 budget.

Luckily, I had put myself through college by building houses, so I had a good idea of what would be needed. But, I also knew the construction process was different here, and there were some things that I just didn’t have the expertise to do myself. However, as labor was inexpensive compared to the States, we jumped in with both feet.

Remember our friends? When they saw pictures of the house, I think they were ready to lock us up. They already thought we were crazy to want to move to another country in the first place, let alone undertake such a project. That is, until they visited.

Even with renovations underway, and construction jobs everywhere, they were amazed by our locale and vistas, and especially how we were transforming the house.

We have taken our time with the remodeling, and it has proven very advantageous. I think until you live here for a couple of seasons, it’s impossible to really know how to best take advantage of the climate and views. Even though we’ve lived here for four years now, I have only worked on the house about a third of the time. My plan is to have it 100% completed in time for a big Christmas.

So, how have we done with the budget? We are right on track with the allotted renovation budget. Part of that is due to my ability to do much of it myself, but mostly it is due to the lower costs here. Another factor worth pointing out, is that property taxes are incredibly low here, we only paid $350 last year. There was also an 18 year old swimming pool on the property which was in disrepair. We had intended to leave that until the very last, as it was not included in our initial renovation budget. But, we came across an excellent contractor with an excellent price, who included an excellent guarantee of four years against everything. So, for $16,000 how could we say no?

Our buddies no longer think we’re crazy. Join me on a three-minute video journey of my home and you can see why for yourself.

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