By Louise Bolger
Costa Rica becoming the new Florida
sun staff writer
I took a trip to Costa Rica last month, not really knowing
what to expect. I wasnt sure if there would be high-rise
condos and hotels toe to toe up and down the beach with souvenir
shops selling straw hats and stuffed iguanas, or if this part
of Central America was still struggling to emerge from the
rainforest. What I found was a little of both with some similarities
to Florida many decades ago.
To say there is a real estate boom in Costa Rica would be
the equivalent of saying the Florida real estate market has
improved during the past five years a gross understatement.
Costa Rica is on the brink of becoming the new Florida.
Florida builders and real estate agents are doing a brisk
business on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of this
small country, where only 100 miles separates the two coastlines.
And aggressively marketing to, who else? The baby boomers.
Driving from the airport in San Jose three hours to the Manual
Antonio region on the Pacific coast, youll pass signs
for new condominium and single-family communities, not so
different from Florida 40 years ago.
Mike Carter, one of Manatee Countys major commercial
builders, is building two gated communities in Manual Antonio
and youll see RE/MAX signs in the beach community of
Jaco about an hour away. One of the new condos I looked at
was beautiful, large and had a magnificent view of the Pacific.
It started around $600,000, which is worth several million
on Floridas coast.
The builders and Realtors are marketing not only new construction
at lower prices than Floridas waterfront, but also a
more exotic lifestyle appealing to the new generation of retirees
sense of adventure.
Costa Rica has a stable government, and is very proactive
in the area of conservation, in particular the rainforest,
and has protected 25 percent of the land against development.
In addition, property taxes are 1/4 of 1 percent of the purchase
Before everyone starts calling American Airlines and booking
flights, Costa Rica has some unsettling issues. I found the
humidity in January to be far worse than Florida in August,
and even though your home or condo may be air conditioned,
all of the restaurants that we ate in were open air, as was
most of the shopping.
Although I felt very safe where I was staying, there are private
security people everywhere protecting the open air businesses.
You can purchase pretty much anything you need, but dont
expect American-0style supermarkets and pharmacies.
If the baby boomers are redefining 60 as the new 40, they
may also redefine Costa Rica as the new Florida maybe
a good thing, maybe not. At any rate, it was an experience,
and the monkeys are fabulous.