Renting a Home in Costa Rica
Posted by Emma on: Jul 26, 2010
If there were one piece of advice I'd give to anyone thinking of relocating to Costa Rica, it would be to rent first. Though Costa Rica is small, it has an incredible array of microclimates and distinct communities. Renting will give you the flexibility to live in different areas and see where you feel most at home.
Begin researching which areas fit your wish list; If you like the beach, Decide whether you want to be near expat communities, Or if you'd prefer living off the beaten path. If you've targeted the mountains, Do you want to live in a rural neighborhood, Or do you prefer to be downtown?
Once you've identified the basics, Make contact with locals. Visit online forums and ask questions. Talk to others who have relocated to your favorite locales. Check out online classifieds to get an idea of rental costs. Be aware that English-language classifieds often have higher prices, Although this sometimes reflects higher construction quality, Extra finishes, And larger property sizes. As you narrow down your search, Local realtors may help you identify rental homes and act as your liaison with owners.
Helpful tips for renting in Costa Rica:
- By default, Most Costa Rican rental contracts are for three years -- but you can usually leave anytime. Rental laws favor the tenant, And a three-year contract is meant to protect the your interests. The only penalty for leaving the contract early may be forfeiting your security deposit, And this depends on your landlord.
- If the landlord agrees to a one-year contact, And you do not want to leave after the lease is up, You have the right to automatically renew your rental contract for another two years.
- Most landlords require a security deposit up front equivalent to one month's rent. The law dictates that landlords have up to one month to return the deposit; this allows them time to assess outstanding utility bills and any property damage.
- By Costa Rican law, The landlord cannot raise your rent for three years if the contract is in dollars. This is true even if you've signed a six-month or one-year lease. By contrast, A rental contract in colones, The local currency, can increase by 15% Per year. Pay with U.S. Dollars.
- In order to terminate the contract, the landlord must give you three months' Notice or the lease will renew for three more years.
- Unfurnished rentals typically do not include the most basic household appliances. An oven, a refrigerator and a clothes washer can be quite expensive, so you may want to begin with a furnished or partially furnished rental.
- Furnished rentals usually come equipped with essential furniture, Inexpensive appliances, And a few kitchen gadgets. Plates, sheets, and towels are generally not included. Additionally, the furnishings in less expensive rentals may be outdated or not up to your standards. However, furnished rentals are a good deal and a great way to test out an area without accumulating a truck's worth of possessions to take to your next rental.
- If you've opted for a furnished rental but want to rent for three months or less, Check out local vacation rentals. These homes are generally built with North American standards and come completely furnished -- just bring your toothbrush! Especially during the low season (May-November), you may be able to work out a great month-by-month or short-term rental deal.
- In Costa Rica, your mantra should be location, location, location and amenities, amenities, amenities. Check out what's available in the neighborhood and even inside the home: If there's no high-speed Internet or home phone installed, they may not be available at all.
- In urban areas, Homes are often located very close to neighbors and within a few feet of the street -- keep your eyes and ears open To area's everyday sights and sounds. If something irritates you within the first hour, you'll be miserable after a week.
- The rainy season (May-November) can be rough on homes and their contents, so you should always check walls and ceilings for water damage. If there's none visible, chances are you'll stay dry during the green season.