If you hate having bars on your windows, you should definitely think about a Costa Rica condo in a secure gated community.

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When thinking of buying a home or building lot here in Costa Rica, there are many things to consider such as areas, climates and micro-climates, size, price, views, availability of services, shopping, security and available amenities and activities.

One option that a lot of people dismiss without much consideration or overlook entirely is a “gated or planned community“.

There are many misconceptions that buyers seem to relate with Costa Rica condos, but there are some very real and unique advantages to building or buying a home in a condo project that may not be applicable where you live now.

Most are not the stereotypical identical townhouses stacked so close you can hear your neighbors alarm clock! They are more what we think of as subdivisions in the suburbs in the states. They are nice winding streets with large (1 to 2 acres) lots. Many have huge old trees, streams and/or great views of mountains, city lights below, or even the ocean.

Some, due to their locations, are required to restrict construction to 10% or less, so that leaves you with lots of green areas and parks as well as huge areas left in their natural state. Homes are designed by their owners (within certain guidelines of course for the good of the neighborhood) so each is unique.

Below are some advantages: (and disadvantages)

  • Security: Because entry is guarded and restricted, gated communities are among the few places in Costa Rica that you can come and go without worrying about your home and belongings. This is convenient if you need to be away for a few hours or days but becomes essential if you are planning a home to be used for vacations and no one will live there for long periods. Some communities will also handle your home as a rental while you are away.
  • If you hate having bars on your windows, you should definitely think about a secure gated community. Ticos love bars, gringos and most other foreigners do not. For Ticos, it often seems to be more of a status symbol and decoration than protection…. Even in very nice low crime neighborhoods, the Ticos will put bars up. It is simple to figure out, if all your neighbors have bars and you don’t, which home do you think thieves will target first?
  • Amenities: If you like to play golf, tennis, swim or work out, but do not want the expense of building and maintaining these facilities on your own property, a gated community which provides these amenities is a great compromise.
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  • Amenities offered by many Costa Rica condos include: golf, tennis, pools and club houses, picnic areas, gyms and health clubs, (some here in Atenas are even considering bringing in doctors on a regular basis and affiliating with some of the best private hospitals in CR for the health care of property owners), beach clubs, marina and fishing access for property owners, (even in projects far from the beaches) wireless high-speed internet. (This is no small thing because most of Costa Rica outside of large cities uses the lowly and SLOW dial-up connection despite the fact that our service provider tells us we have high-speed available all over CR). Plus roving security officers. Some offer alarm systems that are connected to both the police and their own private neighborhood security system.
  • Friends: You may think that you did not leave your home country to come here and be with the same people, but once here, you will discover that it is very nice to know people who share some of your past experiences, culture, tastes, and your language. People who appreciate your occasional need for sage in your sausage or a cherry pie and can conspire with you to find such things are a great comfort at times! Believe me, you will have PLENTY of interaction with the native Ticos no matter where you chose to live.
  • View: The best views are often bought up by the folks with the most money to spend. Developers look for the best views because they know that is one of the things that sell property here. Some developers are selling their lots “first come first served” which means you can have the lot with the best view for the same price as one with a just “so so” view, but you must buy in the beginning stages. This takes a leap of faith and a LOT of knowledge about the developers. Has he done other projects? How did they turn out? How satisfied are the owners of property in those other projects?
  • Permits: Once a development has it’s permits from the municipality for the development, it is MUCH easier and less expensive to obtain the needed building permits. This is a very big deal here in CR and not to be taken lightly as it can take a year or more to get the necessary permits if you are building outside an area already designated for residential construction.
  • There are many studies that must be done before a municipality grants these permits (some such as Palmares do not like to grant them at all!) and they are all done at the property owners expense. Why not let someone else deal with (and pay for) all that hassle?
  • Price: YES! you read correctly… price. You see, here in Costa Rica most of the spectacular views that remain are from huge farms priced in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Plus the expense of bringing in utilities, plus the expense of roads, permits, etc, etc. not to mention amenities sush as pools, tennis and golf! If you have boatloads of money, that’s fine, but if you don’t, then $100K for an acre or two with the above amenities and great view should start looking pretty good!

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Of course, as with everything, there is a down side: You must know the developer and his track record because you will usually be buying a work in progress since once completed the value of the property will skyrocket. Your Costa Rica Realtor can help you with this assuming he or she is not working for, or partners with, the developer.

A good Costa Rica Realtor can come in handy here. We usually suggest a down payment and contract that will be “closed” when certain conditions are met by the developer, such as utilities in place, and roads, etc. Giving them a reasonable time frame to get these things done and giving you the option of a refund of deposit if they fail, is a good idea.

There is usually an association of residents one must join which is responsible for the care and maintenance of the common areas and amenities as well as setting monthly fees for the above once the project approaches completion and a good number of the properties are sold.

This is usually at the discretion of property owners as to when and how much, so you have some control. We also suggest you have a “cap” to these expenses written into your purchase option contract.

One of these Costa Rica condo gated communities may be right for you. If you don’t dismiss them all because you have preconceived ideas, you may be surprised to find your perfect spot in paradise!

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Considering The Atenas Area For Your New Home In Costa Rica?

The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) ranks Atenas as one of “The Best Places to Retire Abroad.” For more information about homes and land for sale in the area please contact our Recommended Realtors in Atenas by using the simple form below:

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