Written by Lisle Head

Is there a Costa Rica MLS?

No. Currently, there is no nationally sanctioned Multiple Listing Service. Some national associations have supported and/or are recommending certain systems, but participation is not required and there is no one system supported by all the associations. So if anyone is telling you they have an MLS they are lieing.  With that said we know every property available in the Jaco and surrounding areas and if you are interested in another area we have associates that can assist.

Do I need a Costa Rican partner in order to own Costa Rica property?

No. Foreigners in Costa Rica can own property in their own names. Purchasing property through a new or existing corporation (Sociedad Anomina or S.A.) is also very popular. Special rules for foreigners apply in Maritime Zones  for concession property. We normally don’t recommend concession property unless it is a unique situation.

How do I know if a property is titled?

All property in Costa Rica should be registered in the Public Registry, whether the property is fee simple or concession. Your attorney will be able to confirm that the seller possesses ownership of the property, and to determine if there are any restrictions, encumbrances or liens. Avoiding the purchase of unregistered property is strongly advised.   We only show property that is titled and registered in the public registry.  We don’t like to take any risk.

How much are property taxes?

Property taxes in Costa Rica are in general very low, only .25 % of the registered property value. So that is $250 a year on $100,000.  Some very large and more luxurious properties are subject to an additional luxury. This would usually be calculated by your attorney or one hired by your Home Owner’s Association.  When buying property with us we will be able to let you know what the current taxes are and if there are any luxury taxes.

How much are closing costs?

Closing costs are approximately 3.5 % of the declared value of a property. About 2.25% goes to the government in the form of stamps and taxes. About 1.25% goes to your attorney. In private sales between an individual Buyer and Seller, closing costs are often split equally.  This is always open for negotiation.  Click Here to calculate your closing cost

Do I need an attorney for real estate transactions?

Yes. We strongly recommend that you have your own representation in any transaction. The closing costs as noted above include the fees for your attorney.  With that said we have a few reputable attorneys that we recommend to work with.  The attorney is a very important part of the transaction and the people we work with are trusted with strong reputations in the Real Estate Community.

Can I borrow money from a Costa Rican bank?

It is very difficult to borrow funds from a Costa Rican bank. In general, most buyers who require financing either borrow funds in their home country or find a property where the owner is willing to finance. Terms vary with owner financing and can sometimes be negotiated. Several structures exist that allow for owner financing in a manner that protects both buyer and seller. We can assist with the whole process and the attorneys are also important.   If you would like to get pre qualified click here .  We can see if the bank can assist and also show you what properties are available with seller financing options.

Can I get title insurance?

Title insurance and escrow services are available through recognized companies such as Stewart Title and First Costa Rican Title Company. The fees for services are generally 1% or less.  We do not recommend title insurance as these title companies don’t do anything that your attorney will not do for you and they charge an extra 1%.  We do recommend using an escrow service for all funds and they cost around $350 to set up.

What about squatters rights, I hear it can be a problem?

Although Costa Rica has laws to protect locals who have lived and cared for a property for many years, also known as squatters rights, squatting is extremely rare in developed areas of the country. If you plan to purchase in a very remote area, it is advisable to have a caretaker check the property regularly to ensure that nobody unauthorized is living there.  This is another reason we recommend purchasing in a gated community to just cut out all the risk.

If I work with you – will I see properties listed by other agencies?

Absolutely! We work with all legitimate agencies and agents. We represent you and our goal is to find you the perfect property. We might not have every property on our website but we have access to all of them.

Costa Rica Travel and General Questions

Do I need a passport to travel to Costa Rica?

A valid passport is mandatory in Costa Rica. Make sure you have at least six months before the passport expires.   You also must have a ticket that shows you are leaving Costa Rica within 90 days.  So your return flight should be fine.  They just will not let you enter the country with a 1 way ticket.   If you need to know how to get around that let us know we have a few legal tricks. :-)

Do I need a Immigration Visa?

That depends on your country of origin. The U.S.A, Canada, Australia and most European citizens do not need a Immigration Visa to visit as a tourist. A typical tourist visa for US tourist and expats is 90 days. However, for other countries check with a Costa Rican consulate to verify visa requirements.

How long can I stay in Costa Rica as a tourist?

The longest tourist visa granted is 90 days but it depends on what you ask when you arrive. Some people are given a 30 day visa depending on their travel itinerary. After your tourist visa expires, you must leave for 72 hours. Then you can return and get a new visa entry stamp.

Can I use my current driver’s license to drive in Costa Rica?

Your valid drivers license will allow you to drive for three months. You will need a valid drivers license and credit card to rent a car.  You also need your passport when you are driving so they can see when you enter the country.

Can I get married in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica allows foreigners to marry in Costa Rica. The needed documents are: original documents of single status, valid passport, police record, divorce decree (if applicable).  If you marry a Costa Rica you will automatically become a resident as well.

Is it safe to drink the water in Costa Rica and Jaco Beach?

The water is safe to drink but not everyone drinks it.    I wouldn’t worry about brushing your teeth and is you are staying in a condo project on the beach most have central water filtration systems.    I have been living in Jaco for 7 years and never had problem with the water.

What is the currency of Costa Rica and can I use USA dollars to pay for purchases and services?

The currency is called Colon. U. S. dollars are accepted almost everywhere.  Also please don’t exchange money at the airport as it is a rip-off.  You can use dollars to pay the taxi or shuttle service and when you get to Jaco exchange the money at the bank.  Also don’t worry about getting the best rate as the exchange rate is the same everywhere and the only place you can exchange is at a bank.  There are not people on the streets or on every corner exchanging money like you see in most other countries. If someone offers to exchange money on the street it is likely counterfeit and your money will be

Can I use my credit card? Are there ATM machine where I can withdraw cash?

All of the major credit cards are widely accepted. ATM machines are all over Jaco Beach and throughout Costa Rica so no worries when it comes to get withdrawing money from you bank back home.  Often, the ATM will give you a choice of US dollars or colones.

What is the electrical voltage in Costa Rica?

Electrical outlets are 110 V North American standard using two prong and three prong outlets.  So you don’t need to bring any adapters all your USA plugs will fit. A good rule is to bring a portable surge protector for all your electrical devices. You can find these products at most electronic resellers back in your home country.

Can I bring my pet?

When your pet enters Costa Rica they must have a health certificate issued by a licenced endorsed veterinanrian serive (VS) veterianarian. Two weeks prior to traveling the required distemper, hepatitis, lestospiroisi, parvovirus and rabies. Please check with your vet. Click Here to read more about pet ravel in Costa Rica

Is there a departure tax when exiting Costa Rica?

Yes. The departure tax is $26.00 and can be paid in U.S. dollars, credit cards or colones at the airport and must be paid prior to flight check-in.  You can also pay it at some hotels and tour companies prior to leaving.  We will help you with any of that when you are here.

Can I legally work in Costa Rica?

To obtain a work permit you must apply at the Costa Rican Consulate obtain Residency Status that permits you to work. Click here to read more about working in Costa Rica.


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