For many years, Costa Rica depended primarily on North American investment.

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Given the current state of the North American economy, Costa Rica’s decision to promote its natural and sustainable resources worldwide, is now paying off big time with many new and large development projects are propping up the Costa Rican economy.

Recently, the survey of Latin American Security conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of the Latin American Business Journal, indicates Costa Rica is the safest place in Central and South America for multi-national companies to conduct business.

Last year, Chile was first, which shows Costa Rica has recently improved and another study found Costa Rica to be the least corrupt country in Latin America.

In addition, U.S. business magazine, Fortune ranked San José, Latin Americas fifth best city to do business and placed it within the 25 best cities in the world. According to the report, Fortune considered the San Jose’s ability to create opportunity for its residents, its business climate and how well it can satisfy the business needs of companies that invest there.

San José ranked tops in the quality of its labor force, its business environment and the lifestyle it offers resident executives and investors. Costa Rica’s strategic location, political stability and business incentives, have all contributed to millions of dollars in investment from multinational companies.

The list of new multinational companies includes: Ritz Carlton, Hyatt, Hilton, RIU, St. Regis, Aman and Mandarin Oriental.

Additionally, the following new projects have broke ground within the last 12 months.

  • The 310-room J.W. Marriott, inside the Hacienda Pinilla beach resort community in Guanacaste.
  • The 214-room Hyatt Azulera Resort formally broke ground in Playa Brasilito.
  • The Rosewood Hotel and Spa on 45-hectares (112 acres) of property fronting Playa Guachipelín in Guanacaste.

Rosewood’s Costa Carmel tent village, which is expected to be completed in 45 days, is not just about showing off the facilities of the 80-room hotel, rather it is part of an aggressive sales and marketing campaign. Representatives of the real estate company in charge of selling and marketing Rosewood, left on a tour of London, Paris, Moscow, San Francisco and southern California.

According to IMI’s Pat Cerjan, “Russia, as an emerging nation, bringing with it a growing list of millionaires.” “In the World it is among the top three, along with the United States and India.”

Mr. Cerjan says, “Europe was always part of IMI’s sales and marketing plan for Rosewood Costa Carmel, but it can’t hurt that the Euro currency is at record highs against a weak US dollar.” There has also been keen interest from China and South Korea.

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It is a global world, and investors come here from everywhere. International owners from all over the world, provide Costa Rica with a good blend of cultures and economic alternatives.

Moreover, since 1995, many large multinational companies have established operations in Costa Rica. The positive business environment, low operational costs and an abundance of natural resources are the primary reasons why investment opportunities in Costa Rica continue to grow.

The following are some of the multinational companies currently conducting business in Costa Rica:

Intel, Panasonic, Glaxco Smith Kline, Phizer, Alcatel, Roche Pharmaceutical, Wal-Mart, Syngenta, L 3 Communications, Intertec, APL Logistics, Exactus, Alterra Partners, Align Technology, Cypress Creek Technologies, ArthroCare, Abbott Labs, Micro Technologies, Wrangler, Seton Corporation, Tec Latina S.A., Calcetería Pirámide, MBT (Degussa Construction Chemicals), Trenzame, ALCOA CSI, Conair, Kimberly Clark, Cartex, Levi’s Strauss, Hanes, Camtronics, AFA Corporation, OPAMEX, Sawtek Remec, EMC Technology, Merrimac/Multimix Microtechnology, Panduit, Xeltron,

PPC Industries, Weststar Medical, Medex Medical, AMACAI Information Corporation, Hoffman La Roche, Panasonic, Bourns Trimpot, ITT Canon, Micro Technologies, Hitronics, Magnéticos Toroid, Teradyne, Hutchings, Ryan Ingeniería, CPP VITEC Group, Baxter Health Care, BostonScientific, Cytyc Surgical Products, De Royal Científica de Latinoamérica, GlaxoSmithKline, Hospira, Inamed, Merck Sharp and Dohme, The Medtech Group, CASINEX, Del Oro, S.A., Dole, FRUCTA, Sábila Industrial, Smurfit, TAISUCO, Terrapez, TICOFRUT as well as financial giants, CitiBank, HSBC and ScotiaBank.

The following local communities are where most of these companies’ offices are located and their employees live and play:

Belén: Famous for the Intel microprocessor production facility and the North American style Cariari Country Club housing development and located approximately five miles north of San Jose, this neighborhood has as its centerpiece, the Cariari Country Club, with its beautiful golf course. Located just off the highway from Juan Santamaria International Airport, you can find many top hotels here including Melia Cariari, the Ramada Herradura as well as good restaurants and the American International School.

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This is a good neighborhood. Just across the highway is Real Cariari- a major shopping mall with a great merry-go-round inside. Just to the west of the Cariari subdivision is San Antonio de Belen. More commonly known as Belen, this is a laid-back town that has experienced rapid growth since Intel built their huge microprocessor plant in 1996 and before that Panasonic and Kimberly Clark opened manufacturing plants here.

You can also find a variety of housing available here in all price ranges as well as the luxurious San Jose Marriott Hotel. Belen consists of three primary villages, La Ribera where the Marriot Hotel is located, La Asunción, which is near the expressway that connects the international airport to the capital of San Jose and San Antonio, the center of the community where the municipal government offices are located.

Escazú: Conveniently located here is the US affiliated, CIMA Hospital and Professional Office Tower as well as the ultra modern Plaza Roble Office Complex, home to international corporate giants like Microsoft, Citibank, 3 Com, L.L. Bean, Nescafe, AEC Electronics CTT Corporation and Alcon. This is a very popular neighborhood to foreign residents and you’ll find a variety of stores international franchises, such as Outback Steakhouse, Hooters, Tony Roma’s, Fridays, McDonalds and KFC.

Blended in with all these businesses are MultiPlaza; Costa Rica’s largest mall, as well as the USA based wholesale shopping giants, Price Smart and Office Depot. Additionally, the five-star Intercontinental Hotel, as well as the Marriott Courtyard, are both located nearby.

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Here you can find luxury estates, high-rise condominiums and ambassador’s residences mixed in with simple local homes. This neighborhood is also home to the exclusive Costa Rica Country Club, which offers golf and tennis for its members. Many internationally accredited, private bi-lingual schools are also located here or nearby.

Heredia: Has recently been made popular by its enormous free zone office complexes that have attracted hundreds of new English speaking employees to international companies like Abbott Labs, Alcatel, Arthrocare, Exactus, Intaco, Intertec, L3, Medex Medical, Pfizer, PPC Industries, Roche, Syngenta, Wal Mart, Westar Medical, Hewlett Packard, DHL and satellite offices for Intel’s big manufacturing facility in neighboring Belen.

Heredia town is on the outskirts of San Jose and offers all the green areas and views Costa Rica is famous for with all the local flavor and a variety of housing options from inexpensive simple homes to multi-million dollar mansions. Heredia is nice and cool as you go higher up into the mountains, in areas such as El Castillo, home to the beautiful, La Condesa Hotel and several upscale residential developments in San Rafael and Barva. This area is located 25-30 minutes from San Jose and offers a beautiful rural environment with plenty of homes and lots available.

Santa Ana: Just West of Escazu and south of Belen is Santa Ana which is home to the giant Forum I and II Office Complexes where multi-national companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Cisco Systems, Unisys, Esso Standard Oil, Bristol-Myers Squibb, KPMG, Chiquita Brands, Sardimar, IBM-GBM, Hewlett Packard, Kraft Foods, Maersk Sealand, and Western Union chose to open their Latin American hubs.

This area has seen the tremendous growth in this direction as the city extends itself outward. A big push has come from the beautiful highway that begins at La Sabana and currently ends at Ciudad Colon. Eventually this highway will lead you to the Central Pacific beaches when the highway project is completed and this will allow vehicle travel to the Central Pacific beaches in about forty-five minutes from the Central Valley.

Santa Ana offers a warm, dry climate year round. Here you will find a good mixture of Costa Ricans and foreigners enjoying life to the fullest in one of Costa Rica’s favorite towns. Santa Ana Centro, still retains its local small town flavor and is very much like the majority of small towns in Costa Rica with a church opposite a park and soccer field at the center of town.

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Additionally, Santa Ana has an interesting variety of restaurants catering to foreigners, including Tex-Mex and Rock & Roll Pollo, that have been popular places on this side of town for many years. Nearby is the luxurious Hotel Alta, which has an excellent restaurant and just off the expressway is the Comfort Hotel. Santa Ana has been a desirable area, as the metropolitan area has grown westward.

Alajuela is the second largest city in Costa Rica and the first to host several free zones that are home to mid-size Latin companies. Located about 30 minutes out of San Jose and home to Costa Rica’s major airport. As you pass the airport and head east past downtown Alajuela you will very quickly encounter the real feel of Costa Rica with lots of coffee farms, an oxcart or two, horses and lots and lots of green areas and spectacular views. There are plenty of homes and lots available for every budget and taste.

As in most of Costa Rica, outside of gated developments and a few neighborhoods, you will find housing varies greatly with expensive homes often built near modest residences, which blends the Tico culture with the new residents.

In closing, the Costa Rican economy is like any other and is driven by financial investment and borrowing power. With new international banks such as Scotia Bank, HSBC and Citibank now lending money at affordable rates, the local economy is just beginning to grow. The average, middle income Costa Rican is now getting a taste of how financing can improve their lifestyles and create new opportunities.

The limit is difficult to envision, because for many years the Costa Rican market did not offer affordable mortgage financing. Now, with these multinational financial institutions all competing to lend money, you will see tremendous growth in the housing sector.

Additionally, international real estate investors gravitate to where the opportunities are attractive. Since the US economy is correcting, the European market is very expensive and opportunities are limited, investors will take their money and borrowing power to the markets that offer opportunities and appreciation.

This is why many investors continue to find Costa Rica real estate investments very attractive.

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Written by Tom Rosenberger. With more than 25 years home-building experience 15 of which have been in Costa Rica, construction consultant Tom Rosenberger knows the ins and outs of building and remodeling a home focusing in the Central Valley area of Costa Rica.

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