The Zen Investor due diligence report: Costa Rica

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

It’s been a couple of days since I’ve arrived to do my due diligence here in Costa Rica. Everything here is different I can feel it in every part of my body, from the climate and the rich green environment that surrounds me every where I turn. The effect that this country has on us is changing the worlds perception and as well as the real estate investment market.

The major focus of the Costa Rican explosion has been focused to the North, and now that the Government has finally built a paved a new Coastal highway to the south much interest is being shown for this underdeveloped area. The Southern Coast line runs from the Panamanian border all the way to Dominical. The stretch here is breath taking with miles of inhabited beaches and rainforest all around. Because there were no dependable roads to really get here in the south this area is very enticing because of the very low land prices compared to the North.

What use to take 10 hours of driving has since shrunken to a 3 hour ride through this outstanding and diverse region.

Without the right kind of roads that could at least lend themselves for trucking traffic loaded with building materials developers were not drawn to this area. But all of this is now changing and changing very quickly! It is said that there will be soon an international airport built in the area. And what happens when you have a great highway system combined with an international airport? A great deal of building of course as well as escalating prices for land!

Don’t be fooled by this over looked area you will definitely be surprised how available amenities are here. There is a wide selection of restaurants in towns such as Ojochal offering you their traditional international specialties from Italian, German, Indonesian and French chefs. Things feel and are very at home here where you will find European wines, cheeses , delicatessens and even a local bakery where the bread is fresh and warm.

Click to see pics of the trip!

You will find other local amenities here such as an internet café, a grocery store, gas station, hardware store, even a Doctor’s and Dentist office. A bonus on the plus side is that you’re close to a relatively new hospital in Osa as well as the Osa Mountain project.

The current President has attended numerous meetings in the area supporting the construction of the international airport and emphasizing the importance of supporting the tourism industry.

The economy here has picked up quite a bit since its peak in 2007 and sudden crash with a GDP growth of 4.5% last year 2010. The Government plans to attract several billion dollars over the next four years from foreign investment. Southern Costa Rica’s echo tourism will be the next high growth sector, with the Government committed on this.

Many of the small towns around Ojochal are already displaying Presidents Chinchilla’s commitment to the area. Only a few years ago you couldn’t find a bank or even rent a car in the area and now all of sudden there 3 banks true brick buildings and a car rental agency!

This is the time to take advantage of investing in an area where the signs of progress are so visible. With the new highway built the number of expats moving in is increasing dramatically. By not procrastinating you can find lots priced to sell, a 10,000 square foot or 1000 square meters plus lot for $40,000.00 in Pacific Lots. They are the 5 star project in the area, but don’t wait there is a lot of real estate activity going on here. This area is set to expand with the construction of the international airport which will drive the tourism industry big time.

Click to see pics of the trip!

The Southern Zone International Airport is planned for the Valle de Diquis on a site mid-way between the town of Palmar and the sleepy riverside village of Sierpe, and to Drake Bay and the Osa Peninsula in the far southwest Pacific corner of Costa Rica. Construction is planned in two phases, beginning in 2012 with a runway designed to accept 50-passenger planes. By 2016, this will be expanded into a mammoth 10,000-foot-long runway capable of accepting the double-decker A380 Airbus, the world’s largest commercial aircraft (it has a maximum capacity of 853 passengers). The three main destinations for arriving travelers will be a) the Costa Ballena (Whale Coast) north of Palmar, b) Drake Bay and western Osa Peninsula, and c) the eastern Osa Peninsula and Corcovado.

Now having said this if you have ever traveled to Costa Rica in the past it was like moving mountains to get into Liberia airport where just the occasional international flight came in. Drive time to San Jose was 5 hours on a road that was more pot holes than road! Tourists are you kidding me how about surfers and backpackers.

The tourism bonanza started in 2002 after the road was paved and regular direct flights from the US. By 2003 Liberia airport received an estimated 50,000 passengers arrive which than went to in excess of 500,000 passengers by 2008. The result prime property quadrupled as developers building resorts and residential homes gobbled it up. Today the North is extremely expensive and prohibitive.

The Southern area is more diverse and nicer and is protected area as well by Government laws. This should guarantee this area remains as beautiful as well as having a much more inviting and warmer climate. Because of the strict environmental protection set out there will be limited development which will dramatically increase the costs. The Governments policy here is nature conservation.

Buying here you need to be conservative; it is just getting off the ground. In this part of the world things go slowly including building. Best estimates say 10 years for your property to double and or triple. Short term selling perhaps 5 years down the road in the least is doubling your profit if not more.

One thing to keep in mind here in Costa Rica if you buy your property under a company IBC there is no capital gains tax to pay! Very cool indeed!

So for my Zen Investors investment here is more for a place overseas where you can enjoy holiday time, a rich laid back lifestyle surrounded by breath taking beaches and the jungle. So if you are not in hurry to see the returns on your money and can enjoy this paradise for 10 years or so you will probably triple and even quadruple your profits here.

It is a win win for sure and a great place to invest.

Thankfully, my trip to Costa Rica is not yet finished. I’ll send you more updates on my discoveries very soon … stay tuned!

2 Responses to “The Zen Investor due diligence report: Costa Rica”

  1. Gatsy says:

    I could watch Schdilner’s List and still be happy after reading this.

  2. Makaela says:

    Back in school, I’m doing so much larening.

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