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Tax Advantages of Living in Costa Rica

Tax Advantages of Living in Costa Rica

November 3, 2016

Properties in Costa Rica

The magic of the Costa Rican lifestyle is being discovered by people from all over the world, recent graduates, retirees, and families included. The laid back lifestyle found here is desired by many, but possibly even more desirable are the tax advantages of living here.

Income Taxes

Here only those earnings made by an individual within Costa Rica are subject to taxes. This means income taxes concern only those who have a job or business in the country. Please note, that a vacation home rental is considered a business and will be prone to taxation. Pensioners, social security collectors, freelancers, telecommunicators, and online business owners all have the advantage of not having to pay taxes on their income. Those individuals working in Costa Rica must pay a 15% progressive tax based on their monthly earnings. The tax is levied on both employment source income and non-employment source income. For self employed parties the taxes are anywhere between 10 and 25%.

Business’s income tax is determined on the difference between the gross income and allowable deductions. For businesses making under $25,000 the rate is 10%, under 50,000 is 20%, and more than 50,000 is 30%. Businesses in free trade areas are exempt from paying taxes.

Sales Tax

When a property is purchased there is a 1.5% transfer tax on the value of real estate purchased, typically paid by the purchaser. This tax must be paid at any point where the property is transferred to a new owner. Sales tax is 13% and is levied both at importation and at the sale. It is levied on all goods with the exception of food products, medical products, and a number of other items. Sales tax must be collected by all business owners from their customers and transferred to the government.

In Costa Rica investors are exempt from paying capital gains taxes on real estate investments. Costa Rica has the maximum tax rate set around 30 percent with no city or state taxes and low property taxes.

When to Pay?

Taxes are assessed provisionally based on the previous year’s results and payable each quarter. The fiscal year runs from Oct 1 to September 30th of the next year. The balance of due taxes is then payable on December 31st.

While Costa Rica has excellent tax regulations in place, US citizens are required to pay income taxes wherever they are living. US income tax returns must be filed yearly through the American Embassy. All income earned abroad must be declared, but you can claim a tax exemption up to $78,000 on foreign-earned gross income. Married couples can claim up to $144,000 of foreign income, but you cannot combine the two exemptions. While this may be a downer, the US gives all citizens living abroad a 2 month extension to file their taxes. Be sure to contact your account for further information and help in ensuring you file your taxes properly.




Sustainable Properties in Costa Rica

Sustainable Properties in Costa Rica

October 3, 2016

Properties in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its sustainable initiatives and for having a lifestyle which is close to nature.  Throughout the country one will find 27 protected national parks, with wild secondary and primary rainforest, mangrove lined waterways and protected cloud forests.  Solar powered homes, fresh water sources, organic farming and off the grid land parcels, make up a variety of properties which are integrated into the local communities. The country is one of the first in the world with the goal of carbon neutrality and residents share like-mindedness toward conservation of the countries natural beauty.

In July and August of 2016, Costa Rica ran on 100% renewable energy from a combination of hydro-electric power, wind, solar, and geothermal. Homes which are living off the grid are becoming an easier and more economic option with constantly evolving energy storage and institutional support. The movement towards living in an ecologically sustainable way dominates much of the country’s culture and community initiatives are constantly growing to meet the needs of local towns.

The options for construction of sustainable homes is also evolving, with focus on using materials like bamboo, earth and locally resourced hardwoods, optimization of natural airflow, orientation with the sunlight and minimization of toxic materials.  Building in tune with the natural forest and terrain with little impact on the surrounding ecology is not only “eco-friendly“, but it allows an owner to truly experience all the jungle flora and fauna have to offer, proving a living experience which is rarely found in this world.

Throughout the country, there are thriving sustainable communities where people can purchase land and build a home. One of the many examples is Finca Bellavista, which is a sustainable treehouse community. This is a reflection of one type of construction one can utilize here in Costa Rica.  Through the use of natural materials and focusing on the integration with nature, one creates an unforgettable retreat.  Not only that, this Finca covers 600 acres in the Southern part of Costa Rica’s lush rainforests, protecting the natural resources found within.  The best thing about Costa Rica is there are many opportunities for a private property which encompasses these same values.

For investors who see the value in protecting nature, there are properties which can generate a return.  Green hotels, yoga retreats, or eco-adventure destinations, these businesses tend to thrive in a country focused on ecotourism.  In 2015, an estimated 2 million tourists generated over $2.45 billion in revenue and accounted for 12% of the country’s GDP.  Sustainable rural tourism is an example of ecotourism which is growing in popularity due to its environmental initiatives and support of local economies.  Private wildlife refuges which can provide guests with an unforgettable experience and put them up front and center with the wildlife of Costa Rica in their natural environment are a priceless commodity in this world.

The beauty of investment in this country is; if you are looking for something that meets luxury standards while also supporting carbon neutrality, we have it. If you are looking for something a little more rustic, truly immersed in nature, you can find it here as well. Costa Rica in all its diversity supports a wide variety of preferences and lifestyles. The country and its people strive to remain in balance with the natural world and if you share this philosophy, you too will find a place in this important movement.




Booming Costa Rica Commercial Real Estate Market

Booming Costa Rica Commercial Real Estate Market

August 12, 2016

Properties in Costa Rica

Costa Rica commercial real estate continues to perform well in 2016. Non-residential buildings grew at an annual rate of 18%. The widespread expansion and new construction of commercial buildings in beach communities and San Jose is driving much of the growth of the commercial real estate market. Costa Rica’s economy is also performing well. While most of the world is experiencing a dramatic slowdown or economic turmoil, Costa Rica’s economy is expected to grow 4.2% in 2016. This positive forecast is tied to record high demand. Throughout San Jose, new buildings are going up to meet the demand. Vacancy rates are low and rents are rising. Costa Rica’s economic that make Costa Rica very attractive to North American and European expats.

The real estate market is also being driven by the increasing number of foreign companies with offices in Costa Rica. Five foreign owned companies are expanding their operations in Costa Rica this year. A total of 39 foreign investment projects in service industries and manufacturing technology already created an estimate 12,000 new jobs in 2016. An additional 2,000 jobs are expected to be created by the end of the year. Sykes, Amazon, Pfizer and Manpower are among the corporations expanding their operations. The commercial real estate market continues to benefit from this economic expansion through foreign investment, which not only creates demand for more office space but also restaurants and local businesses.

Beyond a strong commercial sector in San Jose due to the recent job growth and corporate expansion, the beach towns are also thriving as increasing numbers of expats purchase property in these towns. Guanacaste, Papagayo, Arenal, Puntarenas, Manuel Antonio, Dominical on the Pacific Coast, and Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva, Cocles and Manzanillo in the Caribbean side are the most popular towns. These local towns are big gathering places for the surrounding residents and tourists who can come together to enjoy music, dine or shop as needed. As the population expands, the commercial market demand continues to grow with it. Costa Rica is also one of the few Latin American countries experiencing rising immigration levels. The increase in the number of people living in Costa Rica with disposable income is a big factor driving the Costa Rica commercial real estate boom.

All this said, Costa Rica is an excellent investment choice at this time. The commercial real estate market is strong. There are 30 retail shopping centers scheduled to be built this year. With rental values rising, commercial property owners are well positioned to take advantage of the market. At this point, the market does not show signs of a slowdown making it a good investment opportunity.




Costa Rica’s Southern Zone: Dominical, Ojochal, Uvita

Costa Rica’s Southern Zone: Dominical, Ojochal, Uvita

July 7, 2016

Properties in Costa Rica

The Southern Zone is known for its laid back vibe and three of the most magical towns in Costa Rica: Dominical, Ojochal, and Uvita. Rainforests, legendary surf spots, long stretches of beaches, an abundance of rich terrain and a laid-back atmosphere define this area. It’s a rare place on earth. While development has picked up recent years due to improved roadways and access to the area, the development and conservation regulations ensure this area will never become a noisy resort town with overbearing skyscrapers.

Along the Costa Ballena lie Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal. These three Southern Zone coastal towns are off the radar hot spots. Dominical is a legendary surf spot. Uvita is a commercial center. Ojochal is a small village in the jungle. Deep blue waters meet the towering mountains and green jungles forming a breathtaking landscape that is raw, pure and clean. This is a place for adventurers and those seeking a more laid back lifestyle.

Dominical

Dominical attracts surfers from around the world each year to its legendary waves. The waters here are not for swimming and the waves are legendary. Making the trek to Dominical is a surfer’s pilgrimage. This haven beyond its legendary surf is an attractive laid back village with a few restaurants and shops. Surrounded by estuaries, mangroves, and marshes, the area has an abundance of wildlife. It’s now home to an estimated 700 residents. The pristine environment and warm culture draw surfers and eco-tourists. With lots of yoga and various types of holistic health practitioners mixing with the local culture harmoniously, it is a beacon for wellness. Vegan, raw food, and juicing are common here. Those seeking to live a more sustainable lifestyle flock here. In Dominical, there is time to reflect and just be.

Ojochal

Ojochal is a popular landing spot for expats from North America and Europe. It has grown into a culinary hot spot too. This coastal town is just 30-minutes south of Dominical. With hotels, restaurants, bars, doctors’ offices and a supermarket, it is a low-key Costa Rica town complete with the conveniences of modern life making it an ideal place to visit. With ATV tours, canopy tours, bird watching and mangroves to explore, there is no shortage of adventures and activities. For surfing, there is Playa Ballena and Playa Uvita nearby.

Uvita

Nestled in between Dominical and Ojochal along the Costa Ballena is magical Uvita. This town has a large supermarket and is probably the most developed area of the three places. Scuba diving, horseback riding, canopy tours and wildlife tours are all nearby. Uvita has grown famous for the hosting the annual music festival, the Envision Festival, which celebrates art, culture, yoga and sustainability each year in February. People flock to this small town in Costa Rica each year for the festival, which draws large crowds.

The magic and charm of these three towns lie in the quiet sustainable development, which protects the pristine ecosystems while also providing a level of comfort. The culture is laid back, health conscious and committed to wellbeing. There are few places left in the world that can match what the Southern Zone offers as a quiet refuge from the modern world for adventure, fun, and restoration.

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Sustainability and Costa Rica

Sustainability and Costa Rica

June 28, 2016

Properties in Costa Rica

As one of the most biologically intense countries in the world, Costa Rica has long been known for attracting people craving a more self-sufficient way of life. As one of the first countries in the world to be 100% powered by renewables, it serves as a mecca for those seeking to live in harmony with nature. The natural environment and climate is conducive to a sustainable lifestyle. Year after year people who want to grow their own food, be energy independent and have their own independent water supply move here. This trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon either.

From farms to eco-retreats to to permaculture to micro farms, there is a large, enthusiastic, committed community for sustainable living and green design here. The country is known for its eco-tourism, and it’s a major industry for this small country. As a country, Costa Rica was the first in the world to run 100% on renewables. What this trend reflects is a desire among the locals as well as incoming expats to simplify their lives. It’s about downsizing, simplifying in style, and living in harmony with nature. People crave a high quality life at a slower pace and Costa Rica delivers on that desire. The country’s commitment to the environment and protecting biodiversity means it supports the sustainable lifestyle new residents seek.

Costa Rica’s climate makes it conducive to living sustainably and the year round near perfect weather simplifies energy needs because the country does not experience large fluctuations in temperatures throughout the year. In addition, the climate also supports year round agriculture, which makes it easy for locals to grow and produce much of their own food. There is a lot of rich land available, and the relatively young housing stock means that homes tend to be simple yet built with current materials, and can easily be adapted.

Self-sufficiency is part of the culture. People purchasing property and homes here want to take more control of their lives and be able to manage their resources for a number of reasons. For some it’s simply about reducing cost of living, and for others, it’s forged through a deep commitment to living a more sustainable lifestyle, and for others, it’s about a lifestyle choice that allows for more independence. The available housing inventory offers plenty of attractive options for those seeking partial self-sufficiency to those seeking 100% self-sufficiency.

The fact remains there are a number of issues attracting North Americans and Europeans to Costa Rica. Self-sufficiency is a rich part of the culture and history; it’s not an idea people are struggling to grasp and adapt to as is the case for much of North America.These expats seek a simpler more balanced life, and Costa Rica is conducive to a self-sufficient lifestyle. It’s a top international destination when it comes to living a sustainably and finding a home to achieve that goal.




Spending Time in Nature Boosts Your Mental and Physical Health

Spending Time in Nature Boosts Your Mental and Physical Health

June 23, 2016

Properties in Costa Rica

Nature is the remedy for emotional, spiritual and physical well being. The more time we spend in nature, the better our health and overall disposition. It balances us. Urban environments tend to be hectic and stress filled. When people get an opportunity to step away, it provides a much needed time to rest and recharge. As we become more aware of the importance of green space to our health, many cities have invested in creating more open spaces for their residents.

Costa Rica has a long established reputation for being a place that is very much about nature. Here people are able to connect with nature daily. This factor may be one of the main reasons Costa Ricans tend to be in good health, experience lower stress and anxiety levels as well as a long life expectancy. The average life expectancy is 79.4 years. Spending time in nature recharges the soul and mind while energizing the body. It builds strength and resilience, and helps people to remain centered and balanced.

Whether it’s a walk in a park, strolling the beach or hiking through the forest, spending time in nature improves every aspect of our health, and has even been scientifically proven to benefit our brain chemistry. There’s something about nature that positively impacts our physiology. It’s been proven people who live in urban environments have higher levels of anxiety and depression than those who live in more natural settings. Nature is good for our overall mental health.

We also know that when we exercise outdoors instead of inside, physically we get more Vitamin D, which is a nutrient many people in the western world are deficient in. This deficiency leads to chronic health problems. Part of the problem we face in our current age is that our reliance on technology and addiction to devices means people spend less time outdoors and in nature and more times on their screens. Science shows us that this is neither good for our physical nor mental health. Too much screen time leads to social isolation and poor health.

When we spend time in nature with people it helps us strengthen our relationships too. Modern life is filled with distractions and when we get a chance to be outdoors with family and friends, it provides the vital time needed to connect and form strong intimate bonds with the people we care about. Technology and media is pervasive in every area of our life and finding time to be quiet and reflect is critical to our overall health. Spending time with nature solo gives us time to check in with ourselves and see how we are doing. It has a tendency to boast our overall mood too.

Making time to get outdoors will improve every aspect of your health. It builds physical and mental strength, lifts your mood and provides much needed time to restore balance. It’s one of the big factors in ensuring you life a happy, long life.




Costa Rica’s Charming Central Valley

Costa Rica’s Charming Central Valley

June 18, 2016

Properties in Costa Rica

Dramatic volcanoes and mountainous ranges, national parks, lush green rainforests and proximity to San Jose, makes Costa Rica’s Central Valley one of the most desirable regions in the country. Here a cosmopolitan flair meets a laid back environmentally conscious sensibility. The Central Valley has grown to be a blend of cultures dating back to the original indigenous settlers and now absorbing the expats from North America and Europe to create an international melting pot of world cultures.

The region offers world-class medical care, excellent schools such as the Country Day School, cultural activities, the modern conveniences of restaurants and shops. The area has undergone careful sustainable development to create an inviting 21st Century environment complete with reliable high-speed wireless that is also ecologically sound. The Central Valley represents a pleasant anomaly that is highly desirable to many people.

San Jose forms the epicenter of the Central Valley. As Costa Rica’s capital, it is the urban center and the cultural and business pulse of the country. It’s also where you will find the best medical care in the country. These factors make the area very attractive to business people, as well as expats living and working in Costa Rica. Here you have the cultural charm, laid back lifestyle, commitment to sustainability coupled with a cosmopolitan vibe and 21st Century infrastructure and amenities. People are well-educated and aware of their environment here.

Neighboring Santa Ana and Escazu are two of the poshest neighborhoods in Costa Rica. Escazu is frequently referred to as the “Beverly Hills” of Costa Rica. These are the swanky areas in the Central Valley with many cultural activities as well as upscale shops, boutiques, and restaurants. These towns cater to a mixture of Ticos and expats living in the area and tends to be international. They are cosmopolitan, charming and offer easy access to downtown San Jose, top medical care and some of Costa Rica’s finest schools.

There are also neighboring colonial towns of Heredia, Alajuela, and Cartago. These places are deeply rooted in Costa Rica’s cultural history dating back to the 16th Century. As the oldest settlements in the country, part of their charm resides in the colonial architecture and traditional town planning. These are very attractive pleasant communities that offer a slower pace of life while still being close to the buzz and action of San Jose.

Alajuela is a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of San Jose. The central market, with fresh produce, fish, and meats, is a popular local meeting spot on Saturdays. This small city is in driving distance to the world-famous Arenal Volcano and Monteverde Forest Reserve. Also nearby is the Manuel Brenes Biological Reserve, which is filled with splendid orchids and rich vegetation.

Cartago was Costa Rica’s first capital and one of the oldest communities in Costa Rica. It was the capital until 1823. It’s famous for its grand gray and white Byzantine church, the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angles, which is home to the famous Black Madonna statue who is Costa Rica’s patron Saint. With rich soil, Cartago is a major producer of milk, potatoes, onions and coffee. The Reventazon River runs through the town too. It is also home to the well-respected Costa Rica Institute of Technology.

Heredia is the smallest Costa Rica providence, and it’s also the most authentic. There are few places that can really match the traditional charm of this town. Referred to as the “City of Flowers,” there’s an abundance of orchids, and it’s surrounded by coffee plantations. In the middle of the town, there is a Central Park, which acts as a meeting place. Here you will find the famous Costa Rica church, the Basilica de Barva. It’s also close to the Barva Volcano in Braulio Carrillo National Park.

These are just a few of the defining places in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. They form much of the core of the country’s cultural heritage. By successfully preserving the past while adapting to the needs of the present and future, these towns create pleasant, stable environments anchored in the country’s rich and diverse cultural history.




Rainy Season is Approaching Costa Rica

Rainy Season is Approaching Costa Rica

April 8, 2016

Properties in Costa Rica

Rainy season is approaching Costa Rica, which signals time to slowdown and take a break from sun filled days. Towns slows down from the seasonal tourist swell. It’s actually a great time of year to be in Costa Rica. Marking a time when you can really rest. With the afternoon showers, the green becomes even greener during the rainy season, and the weather a little cooler.

Costa Rica’s seasons are divided between the wet and dry seasons. May through November mark rainy season, and the time to kick back. January, December and November are the coolest months. A tropical country because of its close proximity to the equator, Costa Rica has no real winter, and the sun shines here throughout the year. The rainy season is a welcomed break for most people from the sun struck days.

Traveling during the rainy season also means lower prices and deeper discounts because it is less popular. People who own vacation rentals usually choose this time of year to take a break from renting their home to take advantage of the property for their own personal use. Prices can be 10% to 40% lower during the rainy season. While this time of year sees more frequent storms, for the most part, rainy season means an afternoon shower. Against the backdrop of the magical forests and mountains, it is a lovely time of year. There are still visitors but the population does not swell the way it does in December and January and then again during the spring break in March.

Expect the mornings and early afternoons to be sunny with rain hitting near the late afternoon and early evening sometimes continuing overnight. The rain brings a welcomed transitioned from the near perfect weather this country offers. There is no real summer in Costa Rica. March through May actually mark the hottest months. About 100 inches of rain fall each year with some mountainous areas getting as much as 25 feet of rainfall. It’s wet here. It’s also when the sea turtles come in to nest in large numbers, which is perhaps one of the most magical experiences you can have.

For the most part it rains at the same time everyday, making planning outdoor activities easy. Many take advantage of being outdoor in the morning and early afternoon and then returning indoors during the late afternoon. For many the lack of crowds makes this the best time to visit and take advantage of all the outdoor opportunities. Rivers run higher, the rainforest becomes a little more mystical, and the dry-forests of Guanacaste turn green and lush.




Costa Rica Among Greenest on Earth

March 9, 2012

Properties in Costa Rica

According to a new study by Columbia University and Yale University Costa Rica has ranked the 5th greenest country on the planet. The study revealed almost all countries on Earth and Costa Rica was the only country in the America’s to rank in the top 10. The other countries that made up the first 5 were Austria, France, Sweden, and Norway.

It seems like everytime we stop and look Costa Rica is coming out in a new study ranked as the happiest, the greenest, and who knows what is next. Being the happiest and the greenest country can be related if you take a deeper look at the equation and the studies. The more time you spend in nature and the more attention you give to protecting your surroundings the happier of a place you will have created for your society.

If you are looking to invest in Real Estate it seems like a no-brainer as Costa Rica is becoming more and more of a spot to live a happy and environmentally friendly life-style.

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Wine Options in Costa Rica

November 5, 2011

Properties in Costa Rica

Before the year of 2006 your options for drinking wine in Costa Rica were slim to none. If you were not ready for the full cultural experience of Imperial or Guaro then your alcoholic beverage options might have been limited. Between the years of 2006 – 2008 the wine industry in Costa Rica grew by 30% and with most things in 2009 did not grow. In 2010 and 2011 there have been a 15% growth which means it is back on the rise. Wine is often a good indication of what the economy is like. If people are willing to spend on top bottles of wine from all over the world then there is a good chance they are living the good life.

ExpoVino which was held at Real Intercontinental was a display of your wine options in Costa Rica from all over the world. ExpoVino was a success for their third year. What they are noticing is that Ticos are becoming very educated and doing their research on different wines. Many Costa Rican’s drink wines from Chile due to the free trade agreement and the average spent on a bottle is about $10’s which is relatively cheap when talking about wine. This might be due to the fact that Costa Rican’s are new to the wine industry and with a few more years of experience and taste it is thought that they will begin to spend the extra money on finer wines. Keep an eye on the economy and keep an eye on what kind of whine you see being offered in places. CHEERS!

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