Renting in Costa Rica

The best way to know if you want to live in a place is to live there, but without investing in property. North Americans are conditioned to want to own, own, own, but renting has a lot going for it. The legal period for a rental lease is three years, but as with so many other things in Costa Rica, theory and practice ? what’s “on the books” and what is actually done ? are separated by a wide gulf. The practice here is that most leases are from six months to a year, with some landlords willing to rent month to month. Renting month to month, you could live for a few months in the expat-heavy Central Valley suburb of Escazu, then live for a while in the shadow of a highland volcano, then retreat for a season to a beachside haven on either the Caribbean or Pacific coast. After living in a few places, you will know what sort of weather and ambience suits you.

Renting can be very economical or can strain your budget beyond the breaking point, depending on where and how you want to live. Rates in a recent issue of the English-language Tico Times ranged from US$230 per month for a three-bedroom apartment in San Jose to a whopping US$3,800 for a hilltop home in Escazu. In a recent issue of the Spanish-language La Naci?n, the prices were as low as US$130 per month for a two-bedroom apartment and as high as US$1,100 for a larger, more luxurious home.

The above-mentioned newspapers will be invaluable to you as you search for an apartment, especially if you want to live in the Central Valley. The Tico Times puts most of its classified ads online (, so you can start apartment or house shopping before you arrive.

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