It’s easy to find a long term rental in Costa Rica at a reasonable price if…
- You want to live in the city – online listings are plentiful and relatively accurate for the San José greater metropolitan area
- You’re staying six months during the rainy season – occupancy in tourist areas plummets and landlords give 75% discounts instead of struggling to rent one week a month at full price.
The first clue that you might want to check things out on the ground in Costa Rica is when you start discovering that many of the online listings have very inaccurate locations. It’s not uncommon to find markers misplaced by 100 miles or more.
- Some or all of the images that you see on classifieds or rental websites may be CAD (computer aided design) graphics instead of photos. The buildings, swimming pool, parking lot, terrace etc may be imaginary “future additions”.
- Photos may be from a “similar” unit. Your definition of similar may be quite different than the landlord’s
- You cannot hear the _________ (insert your choice of nasty surprise – rock quarry, discotheque, highway overpass, dozen dogs next door) online.
- You cannot smell the __________ (insert your choice of nasty surprise – chicken processing facility, river used as open sewer, pig farm) online.
- Some “driveways” require serious 4WD
A few terms can and often do have completely different meanings in Costa Rica
- furnished vs. unfurnished – Unlike rentals in the U.S. the definition of furnishings in Costa Rica can include a refrigerator, oven and stove. Unfurnished may mean none of the above are supplied. You may also find gaps in the cabinets to accept a dishwasher or microwave, or a space along the wall with a spigot and outlet for a washer/dryer but none installed.
- hot water – The first thing you need to know about hot water is that you have to ask if there is any. In northern zones it’s assumed that throughout the house in every sink, shower, bathtub, and laundry hook-up there will be a functioning cold and hot tap. In Costa Rica you may find heated water in all, some or none of those locations. Suicide (a 220V heating coil inside the shower head) and demand water heaters may be described as “hot water.” There are often two handles in sinks for shaving, washing dishes etc. but both are connected to cold pipes.
- A/C – In Costa Rica even a million dollar home might have individual window or hotel style split air conditioning units in some or all of the bedrooms but nothing in the living, dining, kitchen or other common areas. Central air conditioning is uncommon. No biggie unless you plan to bake up a batch of banana bread and the kitchen soars to 125°.
There’s quite a bit of overlap in the listings found on each of the rental search sites below. Google translate can help with some of the Spanish but will fail to decipher a lot of the real estate “codewords.”
- The most popular and useful rental listing site is Encuentra 24.
- Properties in Costa Rica is mainly a real estate site but includes medium and long term rentals – often properties where the owners are trying to cover expenses until they can sell.
- olx is a classified ad style listing site that includes rentals
- TodoBusco has listings for all of Central America
- InmoTico is a free bulletin board that includes rental properties in Costa Rica