Infrastructure Improvements make one area of Costa Rica in high demand for expats
The southern Pacific region of Costa Rica is often regarded as the nicest part of the country but has also been the hardest part of the country to get to. Until now…
Background: The region around the Osa Peninsula is often compared to the Galapagos Islands. This area is home to more lowland forest than anywhere else on the entire Pacific coast. The largest mangrove wetlands can be found here as well as the largest native colony of Macaws. There are towering trees, scenic waterfalls and sweeping sandy beaches. A dizzying amount of the world’s biodiversity can be found in this area of Costa Rica. In fact Costa Rica contains twice the number of species than the entire United States while the US contains over 200 times more land. Though only 3% of the land area of Costa Rica, the Osa region in the southern Pacific contains over 50% of animal and plant species of the entire country.
History: Over 20 years ago, a small enclave of expats formed a community just north of the Osa Peninsula in the towns of Ojochal and Tres Rios de Coronado. The development grew primarily by word of mouth attracting North Americans to this spectacular part of the country. But getting there was not an easy task. The inland route, the Cerro de la Muerte (translation is “passage of death”) traversed a mountain ridge high in the clouds, topping 11,000 feet in certain places. The coastal route required numerous river crossings as well as a trek over 20 miles of unpaved road. These challenges made the area largely unvisited. There was the option of taking a small commuter flight from San Jose but upon arrival to the region rental cars were hard to find and taxi service was not readily available.
Recent Changes: In January of 2009 two new highways were finally completed, the Caldera highway stretching from San Jose to the Pacific coast and the Costanera connecting Quepos to Dominical. These improvements made the drive from San Jose to the southern region an attractive three hour drive through some of the most scenic parts of the country. This area is home to Pacific Lots, the largest and oldest residential development for expats in the region
Hold the Presses: (Oct. 15, 2010, Costa Rica) President Laura Chinchilla announced this week high priority on the 35 million dollar southern regional international airport construction project. Chinchilla said construction will start in 2012 to put in the international airport. Environmental studies and other preliminary work has been done on the site located between Palmar Sur and Sierpe and the administration said money for this project will come from the Dirección General de Aviación Civil, the national budget and an allocation the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes received from the International Civil Aviation Organization. This location is about a 30 minute drive from Pacific Lots!
About the development: Pacific Lots development stands alone as a haven for expats. Now in its 21st year, this project consists of 19 phases set in a mountain backdrop with expansive ocean views. Each phase features home sites with artesian spring water to each lot as well as extensive roads (gravel) and electricity throughout. Internet service, phone service and satellite TV is readily available. The North Americans and Europeans living here are blessed with abundant water, being sculpted into prior rain forest that had been cut away years ago as cattle farming was introduced to the area. Now many of these farms have been developed into residential properties. The area is greener now than before as farmers have come to realize that cattle doesn’t do well in the terrain and weren’t very good for the environment.
Why Pacific Lots: Recent improvements in accessibility have increased demand for property in the developments that Pacific Lots represents. Costa Rica has had strong demand for property by expats for many years. Pacific Lots developer offers fully improved home sites starting at $40,000 while ocean view sites start at $80,000. They offer custom home building services for their clients at $100 per square foot and are one of the largest builders of custom homes in the country. There is no time limits to build and owners can hire any builder of their choice though most use the companies crew. Having a custom home built is easy and the developer will manage the entire process and send construction updates via email. Their team includes architects, engineers and nearly every tradesman, in fact they have over 500 people in their construction division. They make all their own windows, doors, cabinets, counters and even wrought iron work. They have a 10,000 square foot facility to support their construction needs. Over half of their 19 phases of development are sold out and they have well over 1000 owners. They are debt free and have never used bank money in the 21 year history of the company. Buying land in a foreign country is easy, getting the house of your dreams built on it is the tough part.
Opportunities: The growth of these developments have brought entrepreneurs who’ve opened restaurants, grocery stores, banks, car rental agencies, furniture stores, construction companies, garden centers and hardware stores. In the village of Ojochal for example, are a surprising number of great restaurants with truly international offerings. There’s a new Argentine steak house (El Fuego) and two French bakeries, an Italian restaurant (Mama y Papa), a German restaurant (Bavaria) an Indonesian restaurant (Ylang Ylang) and a restaurant offering Indian cuisine (Madras). In fact there are over 30 restaurants in the area. There’s a weekly farmers market offering organic produce as well as a gathering place for expats. There’s even a thriving Mennonite community offering organic dairy products as well as incredible baked goods like shoe fly pie, coconut macaroons, delicious cookies and fresh baked granola. Local markets also offer fresh meats, seafood and vegetables that bring back memories of what fresh food realy tastes like.
The Meaning of Life: Life is less complicated here. The pace of life is more enjoyable and there’s a sense of community sorely missed in North America. There are weekly pot luck dinners, local events and entertainment. Life focuses more around people than things. There is a strong expat community offering a variety of opportunities to be involved. There is a woman’s club initially named the Ojochal women’s club but demand to join was so strong that it has been renamed the Costa Bellena woman’s club, now with over 500 members. There are poker games, movie nights, barbecues, festivals and parties.
Live as you want: The area is surprisingly cosmopolitan. There are no big malls in the area but shopping and services are abundant and inexpensive. Banking is easy with Costa Rican banks as well as Scotia Bank, Citibank and HSBC. There is a brand new hospital located in Chontales and clinics, dentists and doctors nearby. For those who need to shop, there are big box stores in neighboring San Isidro and major malls throughout San Jose. Walmart, Price Smart, Office Max, the Costa Rican equivalent of Home Depot as well as high end stores like Hugo Boss, Armani, Cartier, Tiffany, Hilfiger, Benetton, Kenneth Cole and Lacoste, to name a few. Though you may pay a bit more for American brands, there are plenty of inexpensive locally made offerings as well.
Why Costa Rica Property: Costa Rica abolished their military in 1948, spending instead on education, conservation and healthcare. Residents receive low cost national health care rated equal to the quality of care in the US at much lower cost. Costa Rica is a staunchly democratic nation and proud of the fact it is one of the oldest democracies in the Americas. The country has a high literacy rate and education is free. They have a strong environmental record with 25% of the country designated as National Parks, preserves or protected land. Safety and security are less of a risk than many other parts of the world and Costa Rican people are friendly. Costa Rica’s largest source of income is tourism and there is plenty to do as a result. Property ownership is deeded and fee simple (you own it)and foreigners have the same rights to property ownership as Costa Ricans. Costa Rica is also noted for longevity with life expectancy longer than many first world nations including the US.
Come see for Yourself: Pacific Lots is now offering EscapeArtist readers a four-day all inclusive tour of their properties including guest-house lodging and seven full meals during their stay for only $250 per person. Pacific Lots will apply the total cost of the Discovery Tour to any property purchase, plus an additional $1,000 credit for airfare.
The first 25 people who reserve the Escapeartist Special VIP Tour will receive and additional airfare reimbursement bonus that can be applied toward the purchase of a property from Pacific Lots.
Pacificlots will NEVER share or sale your information to anyone. You can opt-out of our list at anytime by scrolling to the bottom of our email and clicking on ‘manage your subscription’