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Which one is right for you, a house or a condo?

Isabelle Emond

Costa Rica condo

"I want a house". "I want a condo". Which one is right for you? 

It is difficult to answer because it really depends on what you prefer and what you need. Here are a few scenarios to help you decide:

1. You are moving here. You have the options of being in town, outside town, in a gated community or not. You could look for a condo, home or lot and build your dream home.

2. You want to buy a vacation HOME and don’t want to rent it out. You will need someone to take care of your home while you are gone. If you buy outside a gated community, you could have someone living on the property such as a gardener/guard that will be taking care of it 24h/7 and assure the security. If you buy in a gated community, you will only need a property manager to take care of the home and pay your bills, send the maid, cut the grass, fix broken things, etc. 

3. You want to buy a vacation HOME and use it as a vacation rental income property. You will need someone to take care of your home while you are gone. If you buy outside a gated community, you could have someone living on the property such as a gardener/guard that will be taking care of it 24/7 and assure the security, unless you buy a property in Tamarindo or Langosta because we have an armed response security company in town. If you buy in a gated community, you will need a property manager to take care of the home and pay your bills, send the maid, cut the grass, fix broken things, etc. This same company will also be in charge of your rental clients and assure the check-ins, check-outs, transportation, etc. If you want to be successful with your rental, you should look at homes that are walking distance to the beach and/or with an ocean view, lots (in order to build) with the same criteria OR in a luxury gated community such as Reserva Conchal, Hacienda Pinilla, El Tesoro or Mar Vista.Costa Rica home overlooking the ocean

4. You want to buy a vacation CONDO and don’t want to rent it out. You will need someone to take care of your condo while you are gone. As almost all the condo complexes have 24h/7 security, you will only need a property manager to pay your bills, send the maid, fix broken things, etc.

5. You want to buy a vacation CONDO and use it as a vacation rental income property. You will need someone to take care of your condo while you are gone. As almost all the condo complexes have 24h/7 security, you will need a property manager to pay your bills, send the maid, fix broken things, etc. This same company will also be in charge of your rental clients and assure the check-ins, check-outs, transportation, etc. If you want to be successful with your rental, you should look at condos that are walking distance to the beach and/or with an ocean view OR in a luxury gated community such as Reserva Conchal, Hacienda Pinilla, El Tesoro or Mar Vista.

We often hear "I don’t like HOA fees, it’s expensive". If you buy a condo, it is true that you will have HOA fees and they vary from a complex to another. They usually cover the security 24h/7, the general maintenance of the buildings, the pool maintenance, the pool products and tools such as chlorine, vacuum, screen, etc. It also covers the guards 24h/7, the gardening, the septic and water tank maintenance, the electricity and water for the common areas, the property management company fee and the insurance on the building plus the liability.

Some example of HOA fees for a 3 bedroom condo in our area ($500,000+, which is also about the starting price for a 3 bedroom home):

  • La Perla in Tamarindo: 600.00 per month
  • Sunrise in Tamarindo: 400.00 per month
  • Diria in Tamarindo: 500.00 per month
  • Las Mareas in Tamarindo: 490.00 per month
  • Naxos in Langosta: 560.00 per month
  • Crystal Sands in Langosta: 835.00 per month
  • Oceanica in Flamingo: 560.00 per month
  • Flamingo Marina Resort 600’s: 400.00 per month

Is buying a house cheaper per month than buying a condo? No, it is not cheaper. If you buy a house in Costa Rica, you will need to pay for your alarm system/security company or guard, your pool guy, your gardener, your plants and flowers, your utilities (water for flowers and trees in dry season, electricity for the pool and outside lights), your insurance, the cleaning of the gutters once in a while, painting, sanding, varnishing… and whatever else is required to keep your house in order. It will cost you a monthly fee and there are good chances that it will be from $600.00 to $1,000.00 per month. 

All that being said, there is a lot of advantages having a house, such as having more privacy, having your own pool, more outside space, choosing your exterior finish, etc. You can also control your costs and do some of the work yourself. If you buy a house in a gated community, you will also have an HOA fee but it will be way less than a condo because it will only be for the gardening of the common areas, the electricity and water for the common areas, the property management company fee and the security 24h/7.

So, are you ready to buy a house OR a condo? 

Isabelle Emond, Owner/Broker