Moving to Costa Rica: Should You Build or Buy Your Home?

Moving to Costa Rica: Should You Build or Buy Your Home?

If you’re planning a move to Costa Rica…congratulations! You’re about to embark on—to borrow a phrase from Bill and Ted—a “most excellent adventure”. Costa Rica is brimming with beauty and opportunity and that pura vida lifestyle everyone envies.

As you plan your move, you’ll need to make plenty of big decisions. Will you live in the city or a charming beach community? How much space will you need? And, perhaps most importantly, will you build the home of your dreams or buy one that is move-in ready?

When it comes to building or buying a home, there is much to consider…and no wrong answer. What’s right for you may not (and likely won’t) work for someone else. That’s why we’ve gathered an unbiased list of the benefits and drawbacks of buying and building…to provide you with information you may not have considered and to let you choose the option that works best for you.

The benefits of building

  • Customization – One of the biggest perks of building your own home is the fact that you have control over the design and layout of your new space. Whether you need a north-facing office space for optimal lighting, a generously sized master bath with a soaking tub, or an extra bedroom next to the master to use as a nursery, building your own home gives you the power to create the space of your dreams according to your needs and taste.
  • Quality – When you’re involved in the construction of your home from the get-go, you have input on the quality of materials used. This ensures the project will stay within your budget as you’ll have approval on what’s used and what isn’t.
  • Supervision – Assuming you will be renting a place in-country while your home is being built, you’ll be able to supervise the construction as it takes place. Being available to answer any questions or course correct should the building team get off track is a huge advantage.

Things to Keep in Mind When Building

  • Fully vet your builder – Don’t go with the first construction company or contractor who says they can have you in a new home in four months. Take a breath and take your time carefully vetting companies before entrusting them with your home. Read online reviews and ask builders for references.
  • It won’t happen overnight – Building a home is a slow process and you must prepare yourself for the inevitable weather or material delays.
  • Make a budget and stick with it – One of the biggest risks when building a home is going over your budget. It’s easy to do, especially when those upgrades are offered throughout a long building process. It only takes a few hundred dollars here and an extra thousand there and, before you know it, you’re way overbudget and drowning in additional debt.

The Benefits of Buying

  • No wait time – Unlike building a home where you can expect a minimum delay of 8 months before move-in, buying a pre-owned home means you can be moving in as quickly as it takes you to close the deal.
  • No big decisions – When buying a home, you aren’t responsible for choosing flooring, cabinetry, or countertops. For those who feel panicked making such decisions, moving into a home where those decisions have already been made can be a relief.

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying

  • You may not get everything you want – Unless you’re building a home, it is difficult to find a house that has everything you need. Make list of “must have” and “nice to have” features and make peace with the fact that they likely won’t all be available.
  • You may need to be flexible regarding location – If you are determined to live within walking distance of your office (or the beach), you will likely have limited options available in your budget range. Go into house hunting with an open mind and decide what is most important to you—the location or getting a home with all the bells and whistles you’ve dreamed of. You may have to compromise in one area or the other.

Regardless of which option you choose, you will be better off if you start with a clear understanding of your budget and what matters most to you. And, no matter where you land, you’ll be enjoying the pura vida lifestyle in no time. Welcome to life in Costa Rica…there’s no better place to be!

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