|If I purchase property in Costa Rica do I own it forever?
You do own the property forever if the property is "Titled" property. Most the property you encounter will be fully-titled, meaning that the land deed will be signed over to you in full allowing you to develop, sell, rent, trade or will the property to your next generation.
What are the laws that pertain to the purchasing of land on the coasts? Are there any other rules and regulations I should know about?
The laws pertaining to the coastal shores of Costa Rica are very specific and convoluted. It is our advice that you fully understand all aspects of coastal land before purchasing. With a good attorney, most of the buying process can be handled. For specific information, please refer to our "Buying Property in Costa Rica" article.
What are Squatters and how do I make sure there are none on my land?
Squatters are people who find a nice little place for a farmstead or home for themselves on land that they do not own. The problem arises when their presence is found and they have certain legal rights to obtain that piece of land due to the improvements made on the land (i.e. garden, home, small farm, livestock, coral). Squatters are legally recognized by the Costa Rican government because it is a law that dates back to the times when common stakes for land were common and routine. The theory states that a person can really only make use of so much land. So, if another family moved to the opposite end of a 500 acre farm, that family had rights to their home and livelihood. In present times do squatters exist? Yes, they certainly do but present laws and awareness have made it very difficult for squatters to possess land. By law, a squatter must occupy land under the pretenses that no one else owns the land. A sure way to settle this matter is to put up a fence around the perimeter of your property. It's difficult to believe that the property belongs to no one when the potential squatters have to cross a fence. The law also states that the squatters must be notified of their eviction within 90 days. Most investors find a friendly neighbor, caretaker or renter to look after the property if the property will be left unattended for long periods of time. There are companies such as Stewart Title who offer Squatter's Insurance to protect against this type of situation. All in all, it is good to know that the property doesn't contain squatters but, too, it is a fairly simple thing to keep your property clear of Squatters.
Why is Costa Rica a good place to invest or live?
There are several opinions on what makes Costa Rica a great place to visit, invest and live. Yours will be the best one. Many will answer it's the laid back lifestyle and pace of things. Others will tell you that it's because Real Estate in Costa Rica is "Booming". Some will tell you that because of low taxes it is appealing. The absolute natural beauty of the country is an obvious answer. The best advice is to form your own opinion. Spend some time here and find out what makes Costa Rica such a wonderful place for you.
How difficult is it to obtain residency or citizenship?
The Costa Rican government has focused their immigration department to aid those in retirement. If an individual with a fixed income would like residency in Costa Rica, the forms and procedures are pretty straight forward. With the assistance of an attorney, you can process this paperwork with ease. If you are not on a fixed income or are attempting to work in Costa Rica then the government makes things very difficult for you. There are companies who specialize in Immigration law in Costa Rica and they each have their strengths. Research them well. It is common practice for foreigners in Costa Rica to exit the country to either Panama or Nicaragua before the expiration of their 90 day Visa. By Costa Rican law, if you exit the country for at least three days you may be allowed to re-enter the country and will have successfully renewed your 90 day Visa.
Do you suggest I use the services of an Escrow company?
Although it is not mandatory to use and Escrow company for purchasing your property, it is highly recommended. The nominal fee for these services can't be bickered over considering the overall protection that you receive. And, most Escrow companies have conducted thousands and thousands of real estate transactions. They are true professionals. In Costa Rica, we suggest Stewart Title.