I am a pensionado who retired from the US Army. I have decided to live in the City of Guapiles, in the Canton of Pococi, in the Province of Limon.
When I originally arrived in Costa Rica, I had been an award winning General Manager for a large hotel in Portland, Oregon. Prior to being a hotel General Manager, I was a licensed realtor in the Portland area.
My financial partner and I were planning to build a small to medium sized hotel here. I was to travel Costa Rica as the front man, find a great location, and make arrangements with the necessary professionals to get the project started.
I spent the first six months here traveling to every area of the country viewing Costa Rica real estate and talking with the owners, meeting all the officials from Tourism, Transportation and Migration.
I met many builders, architects, discussed permits, the best way to get the approvals, and the like.
I have priced real estate throughout the country. I have gotten a feel for the prices of land, housing, and determined the development potential of many pieces of property in all areas of the country.
Unexpectedly, my financial partner passed away.
By that time, I liked Costa Rica so well, I decided just to stay, and apply for residence as a pensionado here.
There are several advantages to living in the area of Guapiles, Canton of Pococi. One plus is the fact that the area is on a one percent slope, and what that would mean to you as a resident is that when it does rain, the area never truly floods due to the gentle slope of the area. In many other areas, especially near the coasts, this can be a problem.
Guapiles and the entire Caribbean area are considered to be geologically stable. I do consider this to be an important consideration.
The quality and availability of clean water is considered to be excellent. In the nearby Braulio Carrillo National Park, is the second largest National Park in Costa Rica and is first in importance since it is the source of sixty percent of the fresh water consumed in the country. In the surrounding areas there are many streams (they are referred to as rivers) carrying clean fresh water.
Most of the small towns in the Canton have favorite “swimming holes” where you can meet and greet the local population. Of course, there are many places where you can go and have your own private picnic and splash privately too. Braulio Carrillo National Park has both a cloud forest, and a rain forest, and is one of the only parks that contain both.
There is also an aerial tram, or Canopy Tours available if one wishes to explore the heights at the top of the trees and the numerous plants and animals that live there.
One can still purchase Costa Rica land here for as little as $8.00 to $25.00 per square meter price range, which is fantastic when it is compared to the Pacific coast where land is selling from $100.00 to $300.00 per square meter. An example is a parcel of land that I recently showed to a French Chef that was visiting the area. I showed him a parcel in an area called Rio Dante.
The parcel was 33 1/3 meters road frontage by 66 2/3 meters deep with Rio Dante (the stream) running through the property. The stream is about 10 meters wide by at the most 2 meters deep (who needs a swimming pool?). He took one look at this parcel and immediately sat down with the owner and put down payment on the piece. The property had both electricity and telephone service available. I believe the agreed price was about $15.00 per sq. meter.
Another current example of prices is a home here, on one of the best paved roads in the Guapiles area, about 1 KM from the center of town that is selling for $85,000.00. This is a newly constructed American style home, on a decent sized lot.
If a person wishes to build the home of their dreams here, no problem! The local hardware super store El Colono (which is similar to a Home Depot in the US) has a resident engineer that is on their payroll who will sit down with you at a computer, design the home you want at no charge, once the drawing is complete, he forwards it to their corporate office and they will give you a written cost of all materials for constructing the house.
If you want the engineer will also arrange for the labor and supervise the project for a reasonable fee too. This particular company only has its stores in the Caribbean area. They also have a very nice home improvement store at the same facility where you can choose everything from tile, toilets, fountains to hot tubs (with samples in place), or anything else needed for the home.
Another major hidden advantage is the fact that the service for telephones, electric, water are much quicker service than I have found in any other area of the country. I friend of mine who lives in the San Jose area wanted a telephone line put in his house, and it took nine months for the line to be hooked up, so that can easily become a factor for those who want internet and telephone access.
I recently have met another American who has settled into the area, while we were waiting to get our vehicles registered and I asked him his opinion of this area and he said ‘I have lived in Costa Rica for fifteen years in every area of the country and so far this is by far the nicest“.
When I pressed him a bit more, he said that the people here were the nicest he has met, and they are relatively honest, and are not out to take advantage of you just because you are an American.
Having lived here for a while myself, I must agree with his assessment, but will add that nowhere is perfect and I am sure there are some bad apples here too, they are just much harder to find than anywhere else.
Another American that was here from the US was looking for a nice home on a large piece of land. He looked at one that was several acres with a nice Tico style home on a major paved highway that was selling for $160,000. This is a parcel that has won awards for one of the best looking Fincas (farm) in the area. It was also truly lovely with a stream running through it and flowering plants absolutely everywhere.
The owner had another slightly smaller parcel with an orange grove, Starfruit tree, Guanabana tree, lemon trees, and a coconut palm lined entryway with two huge ficus trees just outside the front entry gate and several other flowering fruit trees, a Tico style, good sized home, although empty, it was quite nice and impressive.
It was along the major highway between San Jose and the Port of Limon, and could easily have supported a business such as a restaurant or bar, for $79,000.00 asking price, and would lower the price if anyone wanted both.
Yes beautiful properties and bargains are available in the area. I would hate to even think about what any of these properties would sell for in America.
For those who must have beach front property, there is always other areas like Puerto Viejo, which is about two and a half hours away from Guapiles, where the beaches are still white and quite pristine where land can still be purchased at much more reasonable prices than mentioned earlier for the Pacific Coast.
If you ask the advantages of living on the Caribbean Coast the answer is quite simple. There are no rip tides or undertows as there are on the Pacific. Many persons, both Tico and Tourist alike have been carried out to sea and have drowned due to the Pacific rip tides and undertow.
So far I have covered the advantages of this wonderful area, but if one asks what are the disadvantages, I will tell you that too, but it depends more on your outlook of what a disadvantage is. It does rain more on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, although having lived here for several years I personally look forward to the rains.
Why would I look forward to the rains? Most of the rainy season, the mornings are sunny and bright until about the hottest part of the day around one thirty in the afternoon when it begins to rain for a couple of hours. The temperature drops from about eighty five degrees to about 75 degrees, everything gets watered and the rain normally lasts only a couple of hours, then it may or may not rain again at night while you are sleeping.
It is the rain that allows this area to have such a diverse selection of flora and fauna. It also is what allows for perfect conditions for banana and pineapple growing, as well as commercial flower production.
To help offset the disadvantages of the rain is the fact that the Caribbean side of Costa Rica gets what is known as the Humboldt Current which allows for some very refreshing breezes even inland in the afternoons.
Costa Ricas Caribbean side has not been struck by any of the hurricanes that have been a consideration in other areas throughout the Caribbean countries.
The area of Puerto Viejo has an extensive group of Americans, Canadians, and many Europeans that has settled in the area. The real estate in that area especially beach front can range from as little as $25.00 per square meter to a high range of possibly $100.00 per square meter.
To quote another realtor here, if you must live on the beach and would like to know what to bring, your checkbook should be first.
All kidding aside, it is still far more reasonable than the Pacific Coast, and the beaches are much grayer on the Pacific Coast, and in many places, the Pacific beaches have had pollution problems.
A caution to anyone considering purchasing a home or land here is that since Costa Rica does not regulate real estate agents here, anyone can show you properties here (especially taxi drivers).
Almost everyone knows someone who has exactly what you are looking for, what they neglect to tell you is; that if you buy what they show you, you may be paying as high as 20% commission that has been added to the price they want for themselves as the owners.
Second caution is that by not using a known real estate agent here, you may be buying land that is not even owned by the person selling it, and this has happened many times. I highly recommend caution when purchasing land here. Many who have thought they were saving themselves a few dollars on commissions to a known realtor have found out that in the end they lost the entire amount of the investment by trying to save a few bucks.
Costa Rica does have the benefit of being able to purchase and own property here unlike many Central and South American countries, and has never had problems with the government nationalizing the lands. Always have the ownership of any intended purchase checked by the National Registro prior to purchase, as it is the only agency recognized by the government and courts here for verification of ownership.
Costa Rica Caribbean Real Estate – Guapiles
Article/Property ID Number 614
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