After learning about all that Costa Rica has to offer, being one of the most politically stable, financially sound, friendly, safe countries in Latin America with a relatively low cost of living it just made sense for us to invest there.
According to the World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cs.html)- Foreign investors remain attracted by the country’s political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America.
Investing in Real Estate in Costa Rica
One of the biggest draws is the fact that Costa Rica offers a program that grants residency through overseas investment. With an investment of $200,000, foreigners can easily qualify for residency.
Whether you’re looking to become a resident or not, Return on Investment (ROI), is another attractive feature with rates going from 8% up to 20% depending on the investment and your involvement in it, and whether you have a property near the beach (concession property) more on this later.
With as many as 50,000 Americans living in Costa Rica, according to the U.S. State Department, and many more flocking to the country looking for warm beautiful beaches, paradise-like biodiversity, political stability and relatively inexpensive health care, makes this country the perfect location not just to vacation but to invest as well.
Unlike other countries, expats in Costa Rica have the same rights as nationals do, when purchasing properties there. You can own property outright in your name or in the name of your corporation. You don’t need a local partner. Special rules on beachfront concession property, more on this later.
Majority of buyers form a corporation with the help of a reputable attorney, here is why:
-Income from rentals or capital gain from the sale of the property will be taxed within a Costa Rican company and not as personal income.
-It allows for simplified estate planning, whereby you can give or will shares of the corporation that owns the property to family members.
-If you decide to sell, you can avoid paying property transfer taxes a second time, by simply transferring the shares of the corporation to the new owner.
Zoning Laws in Costa Rica: Titled vs Concession
In Costa Rica there are several types of property. The most common being “titled” property in which one receives a deed for the property, as in any other country. Titled property represents 85% of all the property in Costa Rica, 15% is “concession” property, which is the most desirable because is beachfront property.
Since most foreigners wish to acquire front beach property it’s important to first define Maritime Zone.
The Maritime Zone: The Maritime Land Zones are those properties on locations facing maritime coasts, includes islands, mangroves, estuaries, is the first 200 meters from the ordinary high tide heading inland; this area is government owned, and has a public and restricted area.
Having a concession means the owner has a lease with the Costa Rica government for a specific period of time. Lease period is usually 20 years, and multiple lease terms can be acquired.
For any investor looking to buy real estate property in Costa Rica, it’s important to know that the Political Constitution protects private property and foreigners as well as nationals can enjoy the same rights in terms of acquiring and owning real estate property with only a couple of restrictions.
Concession land is very valuable, and therefore subject to higher taxes and to higher restrictions which makes this land difficult to develop and is heavily regulated.
Another important point for expats looking to purchase concession property is that according to Costa Rican law, foreigners with less than 5-years residing in the country can own only up to 49% of a concession.
Always make sure to check with a reputable real estate agent and real estate attorney that can guide you through the process and help you get the property you want at a price you can afford.