Warm people, natural resources, endless beauty…Just a few of Costa Rica’s magnificent qualities that make living here a dream. Making that dream come true is easier than you might think, but if you plan on buying property in Costa Rica there’s a few things you need to know. After 20 years of experience working with Costa Rica real estate, I’ve established three key steps for those looking to buy property here to help ensure a successful purchase process.

#1 Clearly define your vision.

The first step is to define the vision of your Costa Rica property. When it comes to Costa Rica real estate, the opportunities are endless – you will fall in love with and want to buy just about every property! But the immensity of these opportunities can become overwhelming without an objective.

I’ve watched several people, including myself, buy Costa Rica real estate that isn’t a good match for their lifestyle or budget. This is a waste of time, effort, and money. If you’re going to buy property in Costa Rica, thoroughly consider all options before selecting a property.

Questions to consider are when buying are:

  1. What are your motives for buying this property? Do you envision a vacation rental or a house for family getaways? It is vital that you have a clear objective for your purchase.
  2. Do you want to build a home or purchase an existing one? Purchasing an existing home has advantages, but building a home allows for customization. Consider the pros and cons of each to help guide your house buying process.
  3. Do you want a standalone property or one inside a gated community?  Gated communities like Vista Bella afford safety and security, but a desire to live in one may limit options.
  4. Do you prefer space and privacy or the hustle and bustle of a city? There are options for both in Costa Rica, and it’s important to determine your preferences and needs before buying property.
  5. Does proximity to recreation matter? Do you want the luxury of walking to one of Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches or access to a marina? The opportunities for recreation are endless. Knowing what’s important can help ensure your purchase meets your expectations and desires.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. Mapping out your vision will help you avoid buying the wrong property and wasting time and money.

#2 Ensure a good water supply.

Many who buy real estate in Costa Rica believe it’s adequate to determine if there’s water on a property. In doing so, they fail to consider all elements within the water system that are necessary to understand when buying homes here.

Water systems are complex and there are many things a buyer should consider. An important item to determine when buying properties in Costa Rica is the water source itself. Water is in short supply, so you need to validate what your property has or doesn’t have. 

Authorized water sources can include an approved private well or connection to a community water association, called an Asada.  

Make sure you understand all elements of your local system and gather facts from a trusted source. To learn more, I suggest you learn directly from the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts – they set the laws and manage day-to-day operations for water systems in Costa Rica.

#3 Hire a reputable attorney.

I can’t stress how important it is to consult an attorney when buying real estate in Costa Rica. It takes extensive time to learn Costa Rican laws and processes, so it’s critical you select an attorney that is willing to educate you.

Not only is it important to have an attorney, but they must be well-informed and someone you’re comfortable working with. After extensive experience buying real estate here, I’ve worked with numerous attorneys; some have been spectacular and some just haven’t measured up. This can make or break the purchase process. Before hiring an attorney, make sure they are reputable and familiar with the area. If you’re not bilingual, choose a lawyer who is to avoid communication problems and misunderstandings.

Finding a great attorney isn’t always easy, but there are plenty of resources to help. Take time to network with friends and colleagues, or contact us here at Vista Bella and we’d be happy to help.


Buying property in Costa Rica may present some obstacles. However, clearly defining your vision, ensuring a good water supply, and hiring a reputable attorney will help ensure a smooth and successful purchase process. Costa Rica is a magical place that affords endless opportunities, and following these tips is a great step towards owning your dream property here.

Do you still have questions about buying land in Costa Rica? Send me an email here or connect via Twitter.