Many of the new property developments on Coast Rica’s beautiful “Gold Coast” are gated communities. These are an ideal choice for investment, especially if you aren’t planning on living in your property all year round.
Owning land in absentia can pose some unique issues in Costa Rica, where squatter laws give an individual some rights to land if the legitimate owner has allowed them to reside there for over a year. This doesn’t mean that you’ve given them consent to live on your land – it simply means that you haven’t kicked them off. Squatters look for uninhabited land and set up residence, sometimes planting a few crops, and hope to remain undiscovered long enough to make a claim.
There are many ways to avoid this headache – you can have someone local check on your property, employ a caretaker (and keep good records so that they can’t claim squatter status), or visit your property every three months. If squatters are discovered within 90 days the police are required to remove them from your property. To have them removed after a year, the legal landowner must go through a lawsuit which is an expense (and headache) that most people would rather avoid, and in some cases they could even lose ownership of their land.
An easy way to avoid this is to buy property in a gated community. This option ensures that your home is watched when you are not in town as well as having additional benefits. Gated communities are generally a more secure option than striking out alone, especially in areas that are big tourist destinations. Costa Rica is a very safe country: violent crime rates are much lower here than in other countries but petty offenses such as theft and property crime are not uncommon, especially in traveler-dense areas. Many condo developments and gated communities offer an entry system and private security included in the residents’ fees, and your neighbors offer many sets of eyes to keep watch over your place.
Most of these developments offer infrastructure that is well above the national average, with underground electricity, great roads and community areas, and some even offer their own water systems and shopping areas.
The other advantage of owning in a gated community is that you can easily enter a property management arrangement, turning your empty home into a money making venture that pays for itself when you aren’t around. The Guanacaste area has become an increasingly popular resort destination because of its warm weather, amazing beaches and general beauty. There’s no doubt that a smart investment in this area will pay dividends and gated communities are a safe bet!
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