Guide for Canadians Buying Real Estate Property in Costa Rica

Last Updated: 16 Nov 2023
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

Get the straight scoop on buying property in Costa Rica and paying for it online as a Canadian.

Costa Rica is a beautiful, friendly country, and buying property in Costa Rica is a dream for many. However, deciding to buying a house in Costa Rica  is only a teeny step toward making that dream come true. Before buying a house in Costa Rica, it's crucial to look for helpful resources and learn about the best places to buy, working with realtors, mortgages, citizenship issues, and more.

Here we provide a front-line resource about all aspects of buying property in Costa Rica as a Canadian.

Top reasons to buying property in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a Central American country known for its verdant rain forests, colorful culture, incredible national parks, and great weather. The country is bordered by Nicaragua (north), Panama (south), the Caribbean Sea (east), and the Pacific Ocean (west).

Below we consider why Canadians should buy land in Costa Rica;

  • Foreigners are welcome: Real estate financing in Costa Rica is fair game and Canadians can enjoy the same purchasing rights as locals.
  • It can be profitable: If you're buying an investment property in Costa Rica, this can be a great source of passive income.
  • Flexible residency laws and taxation rules: Property taxes are generally low, only 0.25% of the registered property value¹.
  • The government is deemed progressive: Costa Rica has a strong rule of law, a long history of political stability, and a high rate of development².

5 essential steps to purchasing property in Costa Rica

According to a Point2Homes report³, Costa Rica is number three on the list of countries Canadians prefer when making foreign real estate investments.

Whether you're looking for a mountain view, a beachfront view, a jungle view, or a waterfall view, you'll need to complete a few essential steps to get the keys to your new humble abode and make the dream of living in Costa Rica a reality. 

1. Visit and explore Costa Rica

If you want the quickest eye-opener on the Costa Rica property market, simply head down there. Rent a few places in areas of interest and explore until you figure out where you want to live first.

2. Decide how to finance the purchase

If you want to avoid a lot of headaches and red tape, the best way to pay for your home is with cash or a loan from a Canadian lender. You can also get a cross-border mortgage from international banks like Scotiabank, HSBC, and Citibank which operate in Canada and Costa Rica.

3. Find a reputable real estate agency

A local and reputable real estate agent can help narrow your options by showing you viable property listings and helping you in getting houses in Costa Rica. 

4. Get additional help from a lawyer

It's wise to find a lawyer who speaks Spanish and English to handle the paperwork. Of course, hiring a respectable lawyer comes with additional costs, but you'll have more peace of mind if you have a legal expert to fill legal gaps and minimize legal risks.  

A lawyer can even help you form a corporation and make a purchase through that corporation.

5. Close the deal

Although your lawyer can handle most of the paperwork, you'll still need to sign the papers, send money from Canada to Costa Rica, and close the deal. A great way to send money is via MTFX, with a turnaround time of 24-48 hours. That means your sale can go through faster and you can celebrate with a pop of champagne sooner.

What are the best places to live in Costa Rica?

When considering the best place to live in Costa Rica, expatriates and real estate investors often favour areas such as:

Guanacaste: Known for its beautiful beaches and resorts.
Central Valley: Offers a more temperate climate and proximity to the capital, San Jose.
Manuel Antonio: Known for its national park and scenic coastline.
Tamarindo: A vibrant beach town popular for surfing and water activities.
Arenal: Home to the Arenal Volcano and lush landscapes.

Why exchange rate matters?

Most Caribbean islands peg their local currency against the U.S. dollar, and Costa Rica is no exception. So, although the official currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón, your main focus should be on the USD/CAD exchange rate. The USD/CAD exchange rate matters because an inferior exchange rate can lead to serious conversion losses, so you'll have to invest more in your property than planned.

Want to send money from Canada to Costa Rica and save thousands of dollars in exchange rates, fees, and costs? then MTFX has got you covered. Need an easy way to keep an eye on the USD/CAD exchange rate? Use MTFX's live rate calculator to make an informed decision before paying.

Where to find the best exchange rates?

When you compare the range of international money transfer services available, it's easy to see they are not created equal. Take, for instance, sending money via MTFX vs. a bank. Although banks appear to be the easiest option, they are generally not the most cost-effective way to transfer money internationally.

Many banks charge high fees on top of less competitive exchange rates and the transfer can take longer (up to 5 days or more). 

The better option is an international transfer specialist like MTFX, which offers exchange rates 3-5% lower than banks and low transfer fees. 

Paying for your overseas property with an MTFX online account is highly convenient. Additional benefits of using MTFX include guidance from foreign exchange specialists, fast turnaround times (24-48 hours), and access to the best foreign exchange tools.

Paying online without going to the bank

Wiring money should be the least of your concerns when purchasing property in Costa Rica. With MTFX, you can skip the bank trip and log into your account to make the payment anytime and anywhere.

Do you need to make regular online payments to Costa Rica? MTFX's secure platform is powered by industry-leading automated technologies that enable you to set up regular payments with a few clicks. You can save time and money by skipping lengthy banking protocols and unfavorable exchange rates.

How to save more with MTFX exchange rates?

MTFX offers a safe, convenient, and cost-effective way to send property payments internationally. The numbers don't lie – you can save up to $5,000 on property worth $100,000 with exchange rates that beat bank offers by 3-5%.

When you register your account with MTFX, you can enjoy the most optimal way to transfer money internationally.



Buying property in Costa Rica for Canadians – FAQs


How do I make the most of my Costa Rican property-buying experience?

Learning Spanish can make life easier as it helps you communicate better with Costa Ricans you may need to associate with, such as real estate agents, attorneys, tenants, etc.

In addition, the more you learn about buying property in Costa Rica, the more you'll feel comfortable making an informed decision. So dig deeper and research the economic and political climate, maintenance, taxes, re-selling, geographical issues, opening a bank account, and more.

Can Canadians use RRSP funds to buy Costa Rica Estate?

Yes, Canadians can use some of their RRSP money⁴ to invest in a Costa Rican vacation property, all thanks to the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) program.

What are the top home-buying destinations in Costa Rica?

Coastal towns like Tamarindo, Nosara, Grande, Flamingo, Brasilito, Catalinas, and Papagayo are quite popular.

Do I become a resident when I buy a property?

No, Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica. However, if you're planning an extended stay after buying property, you'll need to submit a residency application and get approved.

Can foreigners buy property in Costa Rica?

Yes, foreigners can purchase property in Costa Rica. The country has open property ownership laws, allowing non-residents to purchase real estate, including land and homes. This openness leads many to seek information on "How to buy a property in Costa Rica," which involves understanding the local real estate laws, engaging with reliable real estate agents, and potentially hiring legal assistance to navigate the buying process smoothly.

How much is a beach house in Costa Rica?

The cost of a beach house in Costa Rica can vary widely based on factors such as location, size, amenities, and proximity to the beach. Prices can range from a few hundred thousand dollars to several million dollars, depending on the specific area and the features of the property. It is advised to consult with local real estate agents, and consider your budget and preferences to get a better idea of the pricing and cost of living in Costa Rica.

How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica?

The cost of living in Costa Rica varies, but generally, it's considered more affordable than many Western countries. Individual spending habits and location influence the rent, grocery, and commute prices.

Can Canadians live in Costa Rica?

Yes, Canadians can live in Costa Rica. Many choose to reside there, either part-time or full-time. Residency requirements may apply, so it's recommended to check with the Costa Rican authorities for specific details.



  2. Origins of Democracy in Costa Rica and Nicaragua
  3. Canadians’ Top 30 Most Desired Destinations to Buy a Home in the Americas
  4. How to use your RRSP to invest in real estate

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