After searching for about 3 years, I came across what I think is a great opportunity for property in Costa Rica, the prices are the $180,000 per villa range. It is in the Prados del Sol project. (Note: Ticos are what the people of Costa Rica call themselves. Tico Time refers to the laid back comfortable lifestyle in Costa Rica.)
In this review, I'll discuss why Costa Rica, why this specific area of Costa Rica
I still think this is the best opportunity I have seen and with the Canadian dollar over $.90 (about 0.95 as I write this), the Prados del Sol opportunities are even better now. If you are buying for yourself - now is the best prices I think you are ever going to see. If you are buying for revenue and/or capital appreciation - you may have to wait a little while for the revenue stream to be great, but between the anticipated revenue streams and the capital appreciation that is going to occur as the reccession winds down (sooner or later!) you want to buy while they still have a few units left. Once they are gone, the next best deals I have seen - even now in the recession - aren't nearly as good of a deal!
Why would I consider any property and this property in particular in Costa Rica?
The list of answers why, working with a non-Canadian charity whose board I sit on (Volunteer capacity, they pay me nothing), I decided on these vacation villas at this location is long. To begin with, it is one 1 km inland from the Pacific. This means that instead of paying $300,000 for a unfurnished 2 bedroom condo 5km from the beach, or $4-500,000 US for a similar 1 bedroom villa on the beach, you only pay less than $180,000 USD for the three bedroom unit! I, and a couple others on my behalf, looked at a lot of other projects. I looked through various sources for such properties. Only one bears mention:the huge marketing company International Living that many people are fooled into thinking is an independent magazine advisory. While they sometimes have good deals, if you read the fine print, they are not independent, they are paid a commission when you follow their advice! Basically they are are a marketing brochure that people pay to receive. I have no problem with this as long as you/I are aware, but I've talked to many people who didn't read or didn't understand the fine print and thought that that magazine was, indeed, an independent magazine and were shocked to find out they were paying for a large advertising brochure. So, I'm not saying stop subscribing, just be aware of what it is you are receiving and you'll do fine.
So why the province Guanacaste?
The cost of Guanacaste is, in my opinion, the closest thing to ideal year round weather I am going to find - and I've travelled extensively around the world through my life (Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, China, Europe, Mexico, Panama and the States.) It is warm enough to be HOT part of the day, but nice enough to be refreshing the rest of te day. In the rainy season, a typical day is nice warm sunny weather for 6-8 hours, 2-3 hours of rain (take a siesta) and a nice warm evening. The water on the beaches is warm, comfortable both rainy season and high season. The humidity level is lower than the Carribean side of the country.
And why near the town of Samara?
Samara is a nice town. Great for vacationing. It is big enough to have restuarants, car rental, police detachment, real estate offices, grocery stores and lots of local art to buy as souveniers. Yet it is far enough from the "bar" scene of Tamarindo that you can choose when/if to participate in that atmosphere. In fact, when I've talked to people who have both been to Costa Rica and Hawaii, every one said that Costa Rica was better for vacationing and living with the exception of one person, and he explained "In Hawaii I can get drunk within 5 minutes of leaving the plane and I can stay drunk until I get back on the plane." Whereas, as he explained, in Costa Rica, he had to go 45 minutes to Tamarindo before he could get plastered, and then on the 45 minute cab ride back to the airport he started to sober up. So, if that appeals to you, then clearly Prados del Sol isn't going to be your favorite location, but for most adults and most families, Samara in Guanacaste is one of the best locations to retire or vacation.
As far as costs go at Prados del Sol, the one bedroom Prados dol Sol villas are a stunning investment opportunity as they began at around $150,000 USD, now $160,000. I know they are considering raising the price as they get closer to completing, but even at $200,000 these Prados del Sol properties near Samara are, in my opinion, a good option.
Prados del Sol's prices are less than ½ the cost of buying what I have seen as similar property (location, size style) in Mexico, or even less than directly on the beach in Costa Rica and indeed, every one of the inland Costa Rica properties such as this I have seen are selling for more than that. Recently (Feb. 2008), I received an advertising flyer telling me I could get a similar property for only $99,000 for the land "only a few km from the beach", and the building costs would "only" be another $129,000 for the 1 bedroom villas! So Nearly $230,000 for a similar (but unfurnished, so I would also have to add that cost to the $230K) property in Costa Rica, quite a bit further from the beach.
As a nice compact retirement home it would be a fantastic deal, personally, my involvement is one of the charities I sit on the board of is buying there as an investment opportunity, either to keep and rent, or flip after the US comes out of its recession or slowdown and the road by is paved. I see this as an excellent opportunity, we are buying while the competition for buying is low. For Canadians, if the Canadian Dollar drops to, say 85 cents, there is an instant win, since Tico (Costa Rica) properties are typically listed in USD, and indeed.
And, worthy of note, there are many expensive beach properties available in both Mexico and Costa Rica, but you will need to search long and hard for one that is less than one km from shore and situated within 5 to twenty minutes of surfing, seven stunning beaches, fine dining, snorkelling, sport fishing, horseback riding, nature preserves, night life, and gambling.
For more information on Prados del Sol contact me.
When I write reviews, I typically have experience or research into a wide range of similar products first. In this case, my research ranged from hotel rooms (that you could 'buy') timeshares all the way up to these villas in size, it also ranged from close to the beach all the way to the middle of the country (and yes, if volcanos are the only thing that interest you, or you are planning on working in Liberia or San Jose, those locations may be better for you), it ranged from Mexico to Peru, with special emphasis on Panama and Nicaragua, and it ranged from prices in the mide 100K's up to properties of over 1M in value.
If you want, browse around my site to see other reviews, that I think I did good research on before I wrote them, including Spanish learning products, computer software, solar technology, housing and other products. But for here, I think you will find that, for Costa Rica Vacations/Holidays and for buying property for your family (lots of kids OK), for retirement, for revenue properties with huge capital appreciation opportunities, for more than 95% of buyers, Prados del Sol is one of the very best opportunities you are ever going to find. I do recognize that there are lots of reasons for specific buyers to buy elsewhere "my mother lives in ...", "I want to work in the city of ..." "I want that one 20 room mansion overlooking a protected wildlife reserve and money is not objective", "I want to own 100's of acres and $400M is within my budget".
But for most people, the Pardos del Sol properties in Guanacaste near Samara are by far the best value for rental property, Costa Rica vacations and holidays and a great way to meet the Tico people.