Unsexy in Costa Rica

Every time I visit Costa Rica’s Southern Zone the gorgeous scenery stops me in my tracks. And property prices here are as breath-taking as the landscape.

You can own an ocean-view lot in this pristine wonderland for only $120,000. That compares very favorably to prices on Costa Rica’s more developed northwest coast—where similar lots can set you back $550,000.

That’s because the Southern Zone only opened up to mainstream tourism last year. Until then, getting to the Southern Zone was not for the faint-hearted. Whole sections of the old road were impassable, with rickety bridges and crater-sized potholes.

A new coastal road, opened in January 2010, changed that. It may not make for a sexy story—but the new road cut the drive time from San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital) in half, to around three hours. And government plans call for an international airport to replace the tiny domestic airstrip. Tourists, retirees and second-home buyers are set to come here in their thousands. That will do one thing: push property prices up.

This isn’t an outpost wilderness where you’ll have to rough it, though. A small group of expats already call the Southern Zone home. Their little restaurants serve organic food, Indonesian food, Italian food…wood-fired pizza, smokehouse chicken, and crusty French bread. If the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee doesn’t tempt you, perhaps the wide selection of cheese, wine, and chocolate in the local deli will…

The longest-established community in the Southern Zone offers mountain-view lots from $40,000, and ocean-view lots from $120,000. You can build a custom home for $100 a square foot. Residents take full advantage of the elevated setting and cool afternoon breezes, with spacious outside terraces, swimming pools and barbecue decks.

Strict planning laws should preserve the beauty of this region. What will change are those low property prices—I’ll tell you more about them in my Pathfinder Alert e-letter…you can get a free subscription here. You should check the Southern Zone out now, while it’s still affordable. I know you’ll love this place—almost as much as I do.

Editor’s Note: Property expert Margaret Summerfield is a director of Pathfinder, IL’s preferred real estate advertiser.


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