Costa Rica has a good number of commercial and industrial parks called "Zonas Francas". The procedures for establishing a business in a Zona Franca property can be explained by CINDE, a consulting firm that offers mainly free services to foreign investors. ( See www.cinde.org ) Zonas Francas offer some tax advantages for investors, although these will eventually be reduced or eliminated by requirements of the World Trade Organization. Costa Rica also offers some incentives for investment in rural or less developed regions, which have the added benefit of lower labour and property prices.
While Costa Rica does not rival India for international call centers and sports booking, there is an influx of such businesses to the degree that bi-lingual personnel are in short supply. The country has the advantage of being in the same time zone as the central USA. Tucan Realty's commercial and industrial property include a number of locations appropriate for a call center, mainly situated outside central San Jose.
The Costa Rican Institute for Tourism promotes tourism using the apt slogan "Costa Rica, No Artificial Ingredients." This small country of four million inhabitants annually hosts two million foreign visitors with the enchantment of beaches, cloud forests, national parks, surfing, rafting, volcanoes, rivers and waterfalls, its incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Some visitors, delighted with the nation\'s people, culture, and natural wonders, come back permanently to make their lives here.
Costa Rica's main economic activity is now tourism, with the number of visitors, increasing annually at a rate of 12 to 15%. The Institute of Tourism is forecasting a shortage of accommodations to house the visitors. In the high period, December to March, occupancy in many locations approaches 100%.
The Institute of Tourism actively promotes the concept of Sustainable Tourism, striving to enhance tourism while respecting the natural environment and promoting community development. Nevertheless, in recent years there has been a proliferation of mega-tourism projects, especially in the Northwest Pacific beach areas, with negative consequences for the environment and little benefit to the local community apart from low wage service employment. Still, the bulk of tourist traffic is lodged in locally owned small hotels, B and Bs, and even rustic accommodations in the jungle or in struggling rural cooperatives.
Investments and Properties El Tucan does not work with big international hotel chains or any type of mega-project. We do work with enterprising persons with modest means to establish an eco-tourism project in locations with exotic attractions or to take over a B and B or hotel. Investment opportunities for turn-key businesses range from a nine bedroom B and B in the mountains just outside San Jose at $380,000 to a luxurious international restaurant and conference center with lodging and an approved Master Plan for a hotel near the airport at $3.5 million. Good locations to develop an eco-tourism project include a 630 acre cloud forest property with three rivers and four waterfalls just outside the city of San Ramon, at $1.5 million. We list several volcanic hot springs properties for Spa development. There are many smaller and less expensive locations excellent for eco-tourism. To see properties go to Search Listings and use the text/keyword search box at the bottom (for example: "Tourism Property"), you can also refine the search using the location and price range options. For a printable list in Word format email Dale at troporg AT racsa.co.cr
General information on tourism can be viewed at the website of The Institute for Tourism, ICT Tourism Info
There are incentives to invest in tourism, including a path to residency for foreigners.
Purchase of properties for residential development is a good business in Costa Rica with investors enjoying a healthy balance of returns and security. Many properties are suitable for lot segregation and sale of lots, or for sub-division and construction of condos or homes - we offer a range of such properties in our listings database.
In recent years Costa Rica has experienced a construction boom, especially on the Pacific Coast, mostly homes and condos catering to affluent foreigners and condos and residential communities, many at very reasonable prices, in the metropolitan area of San Jose. Most people who purchase a lot to build a home or buy a new home are middle income Costa Ricans, immigrants from Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, or Americans, Canadians, and Europeans seeking a retirement location or younger foreigners seeking a new life in the land of "pura vida".
The government of Costa Rica also provides subsidies for low income persons to purchase a home and there are some developments serving this population. Due to the ever-increasing cost of land near beaches and in and close to San Jose, residential projects are moving out into more outlying area such as San Ramon and the Northern Zone. These are the areas where the properties we list are mainly located. Expressways are being built westward from San Jose to serve the areas where the population is moving.
Most of the land suitable for residential projects has been in agricultural use. Zoning in the Plan Regulador in most municipalities for farm properties is usually with residential development permitted without zoning variance on 1.25 acre interior lots and 500 square meter lots on public road frontage. Interior land sub-division in smaller lots or condominium will usually require an application process. The staff at Investments and Properties El Tucan will have on file a Plot Map (Plano Catastro) of the property, a title search (Consulta de Registro Nacional) indicating ownership, and a zoning statement (Uso de Suelo) specifying allowed land usage. In some cases we have prepared a Development Plan for the property and if we do not have one we are prepared to design one based on the investor\'s ideas about the type of development projected. Development Plans will indicate land acquisition costs, infrastructure costs for roads, electric, telephone and water services, technical, survey, and permitting expenses such as an Environmental Impact Study if required, and projections of income from lot or home sales. If sales go as projected the initial investment can be recovered within three years and a substantial profit generated in years thereafter.
-A residential project must have a sound development plan designed by an architect and then the approval of regulatory agencies.
-A green light from the Municipality according to its Uso de Suelo
-A subdivision survey by a topographer and soil engineering study.
-Design of a Master Plan for the project, usually by an architect.
-Authorization by the local water administration authority assuring water supply.
-A permit from INVU, the Housing Authority.
-Coordination with the Instituto Costarricense de Electricdad, ICE, for electric and land line telephone service provision.
-Approval by SETENA, Secretaria TÃ©cnica Nacional Ambiental, an overworked office of the Ministerio del Ambiente y Energia (they may require an Environmental Impact Study).
-A developer may wish the services of a project management specialist, we can recommend.
-If homes are be to constructed, a contract with a local builder.
The staff at Investments and Properties El Tucan will guide the investor through this process. El Tucan works with investors who are serious about respect for the environment. We have no interest in working with expensive beach condos or coastal developments that are destructive of the environment.
Links for additional information about residential development projects:
- For more detailed information on land development consult Landcolaw.com
- For information on procedures and permitting see www.tramitesconstruccion.go.cr
The most difficult and time consuming procedure is the permit from SETENA, see MINAE environmental permits (Spanish)
There is also much general information at www.visitcostarica.com, and for guidance on foreign investment consult CINDE, an agency that promotes foreign investment and provides free services: www.cinde.org
If the project might involve tourism, see the information and incentives provided by the Instituto Costariccense de Turismo
Text and images copyright Tucan Investments and Properties. All rights reserved. Information deemed to be reliable but not guaranteed. The data relating to real estate for sale on this web site comes from the seller, documentation in the local municipality or information publicly available in the Costa Rican National Registry. Listing broker has attempted to offer accurate data, but buyers are advised to confirm all items.