Being the eager beaver that I am, I instantly started researching rentals as soon as we decided that we were really going to make this move. We needed to make sure we could find a place we could afford that I would be willing to live in. I may be moving to Costa Rica, but I’m still a bit of a princess and want a nice place with American standards. As you drive through Costa Rica you will see a wide range of homes from luxury upscale to tin shacks. And although I may pick up surfing, I don’t want to live the surfer lifestyle. Is it too much to ask to have a toilet that you can flush toilet paper down?
After crunching the numbers, we decided that our rental budget would be around $1,500 mo. We want to keep our budget low our first year until we get a better idea of how much things are really going to cost. Not only are we cutting our income almost in half to make this move, our daughter’s school is not going to be cheap. We needed to take all of that into consideration, including the unknown. And my husband insists on having a house cleaner at least once a week. I guess he thinks I’m a slob.
Location, location, location
After traveling on vacation to the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica three times over the last few years, we basically know which areas we like best. We’re focusing our search around the beach towns of Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero & Playa Grande. Tamarindo is just too populated for us and not as family friendly as we would like. But if you like the sound of loud motorcycles, construction, horns honking and drunk people screaming throughout the night, Tamarindo may be just the place for you. We also need to be in close driving distance to one of the two private schools that we are deciding between — Guanacaste Country Day School or LaPaz Community School. And for my husband’s wish list, he wants an ocean view condo that is not on the ground floor. The higher the better. He feels that the higher up you are the harder it will be for the big scary bugs to get to him. This theory may be somewhat true, but he IS in Costa Rica and he WILL encounter some scary critters. My daughter just wants a pool. And we need a place that is pet friendly. We come with a dog and a cat. I would be okay leaving the cat behind, but my dog must come with. My daughter would never forgive me if we found our cat a new home though. Just like I never forgave my mom for giving away Dominoes (sorry mom). As with most rentals, it’s hard to find ones that will allow pets.
Finding a long term rental
Finding a long term rental in Costa Rica is not as easy as it is here in the states. There is no large database of long term rentals located in one place. And I’m finding that different real estate agents have different pools of properties to offer. I’ve also done extensive searching on a variety of websites including the well known www.homeaway.com and www.vbro.com. These sites primarily list vacation rentals, not long term rentals. So when I find one I like I email them and ask if they’d consider a long term rental. Most say no, but some say yes, although they’ve been out of our price range so far. There are a few real estate websites that do list long term rentals, including Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica and Tropical Homes of Costa Rica, but when I contact them I’m told that I’m looking too early and I need to wait. I guess a year before our move is a little early. I’m a planner, so waiting to plan is hard. My best contact has been real estate agent Alonso Lara. He was referred to us by an expat that lives in Playa Flamingo. He has been very responsive and continues to send me listings. I’m sure he thinks I’m crazy…”You want what for how much? Crazy gringa!” He is going to show us some properties in November when we go down for another vacation. Can’t wait!
So I guess it’s time to slow down on the house hunt. There’s no point in putting the cart before the horse, as one agent told me. I’ll get back to her in March…that’s if Alonso and I don’t find something first.