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About Costa Rica

Real Estate Purchase

Location: Once you have decided on the type of property you’d like to purchase, the next question is in which location. Do you want to be centrally located near the capital San Jose and the airport? Or a little further away in the Central Valley, with views of mountains and forests? Or close to the coastline? The elevation and the distance to ocean or city determine the type of home you can build, as well as the quality of life offered.

Use: Are you staying in Costa Rica year round, or just for a few weeks or months? If you are planning on moving here permanently, all doors are open, but if it’s only for a certain time of the year, one of the main concerns will be security when the property is vacant. It is a good idea to purchase a home owners and theft insurance, just in case (* see below). As with all investment properties, it is natural to consider the desired overall return vs. cost. There are numerous options; please contact me.

Investment or Volume: In what price range are you looking for a property in Costa Rica? This question usually determines which properties you can choose from.

How to Find Your Property: Once the above mentioned details are decided, I recommend a market analysis of the particular areas you are interested in. Select the properties based on an evaluation of online offers, local newspaper ads, real estate listings, and properties for sale by owner. All this is rather time consuming and often requires a good portion of luck to find the perfect property here in Costa Rica. In order to get a thorough idea of what is available, and therefore be able to make the right purchase decision, I recommend visiting the area. It will be my pleasure to explain the current market situation in Costa Rica to you.

Land Register, Background and Feasibility Study: A property many look very convincing at first glance, but it is important to have the legal status of the Costa Rica property in the National Register verified by a competent and independent source. And if you are planning on building on a vacant lot, an engineer or architect should be consulted for his expert opinion. Sometimes the particulars of the land / property do not allow certain structural designs. The costs for these external consultations depend on the respective service; for instance my own work as a real estate agent is covered by the commission that is usually paid by the Seller. My services do not just include support in searching for and analyzing properties, but help and advice in the event you require an expert in a certain area to receive more detailed  information.

A purchase involves the following costs:

Real estate transfer tax and additional doc stamps: 2,34%
Fee for notary public: 1.25%

As a general rule, whoever pays for the notary service may choose the notary for the deed (sales contract). I recommend that you pick the notary, since your interests as the Buyer will be better represented. Additional information is available from local attorneys and notary offices. I’ll gladly refer you to German speaking offices.

Information about Home and Theft Insurance

The state supported insurance INS bases its premiums on the quoted value of the property and the area where it is located. For example, the following percentages* are valid ** for the possible individual coverage of a single family home located in Escazu (Central Valley), in US dollars:

Fire and lightning damage: 0,0382%
Various risks: 0,0069%
Landslide, wind and water damage: 0,0312%
Broken glass: 1,0298%
Earthquake: 0,3182%

Insurance against theft of items involves a detailed list; the premium is 1.2060% of the items. If the home can be shown to have protection against burglary, the premium is a bit lower.

*These percentages are based on a general package. If the insurance inspector notes particular risk factors during his evaluation, e.g. the home is built close to a river and therefore subject to possible flooding, the percentage is increased. There are also some minor differences if the insurance is purchased in the state currency Colones.

** As of April 2010.

Founding a New Company

The Limitada (Ltda.) is a popular form of corporation for family enterprises, friends, and small businesses, as it is designed as a small corporation with few shareholders. The transfer of shares is limited by law.

A Ltda. is founded through the notarized Articles of Agreement. There must be at least two shareholders, and the corporation name has to be entered in the trade register and published in the official journal. The corporate capital is divided into shares. Each shareholder‘s voting power is in direct relation to the total shares he owns (his investment).

In contrast to a Costa Rica stock company, it is not necessary to establish a monitoring body for a Ltda., which is run and legally represented by a manager, who can be one of the shareholders but also a third party. In order to properly handle local business activities, it is advisable to elect a person as the manager who resides in Costa Rica legally. For example, in order to open a bank account the company’s representative must prove legal status.

A Costa Rica stock company, a so-called Sociedad Anomina (usually abbreviated as S.A.) is founded by registered shares. Company shareholders with one, several or all*shares are listed by name, so the “anomina” in the title should not be interpreted as granting anonymity.

Similar to the founding of a Ltda., a S.A. is founded through notarized Articles of Agreement, at least two shareholders, entering  the corporation name in the trade register and publishing it in the official journal.

It is possible to issue stock based in the specific requirements of the company, with certain restrictions or preferred shares. Unless restricted by terms in the Articles of Agreement, a transfer of shares is not difficult. The S.A. is the most common form of a corporation, as it appeals to all kinds of requirements by small and large businesses alike.

The company’s business is run by a board of directors. This board consists of at least three members: President, Secretary and Treasurer. Shareholders and non-shareholders alike may become board members. They are elected and their names are entered into the trade register. In addition, a monitoring body in form of an external auditor (fiscal) is appointed; in most cases this is the company attorney.

*An interesting aspect of the S.A is the fact that it can continue operation with just one shareholder.

The above information is presumed correct but not guaranteed. For detailed information, please contact a local attorney or notary.

Medical Care

All the larger cities and provincial capitals have major hospitals. In the more remote areas along the coast, where some of the properties I’m offering are located at, you’ll find state clinics for first aid and emergency treatment. Payment is usually covered by the universal  health and retirement insurance (C.C.S.S. = Caja Costariciense del Seguro Social), which is mandatory for all registered employees and employers. You can imagine why many Costa Ricans use this “free” service at the clinics and hospitals on any given day at any given time not just for emergencies, but for their regular health care. As a result, waiting times can be long even if you have an appointment. However, true emergencies are dealt with immediately, and tourists do not have to pay anything, just like the locals. But for additional services, drugs approved by the C.C.S.S., and stays at state facilities, you must be a member of the universal health and retirement insurance, which is only possible if you are a legal resident.

The situation described above with the overflowing clinics has led to the creation of a private market for doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals. Continuous education and specialization abroad have allowed this market to reach a very high international standard, with mostly high-class equipment and facilities.

Word got out, not just among the high income earners but also among foreigners residing in Costa Rica and in particular among tourists, who can received excellent treatment for a fraction of the price they’d pay in the industrial nations. The result is the development of a health and beauty tourism branch.

One example is the private CIMA Hospital, located in the western part of the Central Valley, which claims to be one of the best hospitals in Central America with specialists in all fields.

I hope I was able to give you a brief overview of the medical care available in this country.

Living in Paradise


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