On arrival in Costa Rica, you may find it necessary to stay in temporary accommodation for a few weeks or months until you can move into your own place. In Costa Rica your options for short-term stay comprise of bed & breakfasts, homestays, hotels, short-term rentals and furnished apartments.
After you find a place to sleep, your search can start. Unless you want to depend on getting lucky, you should consider several options for your housing search. The most important thing is to have a very clear idea of what you are actually looking for, otherwise it is easy to waste your time. The best start is to get familiar with the your new environment by walking around, seeing how transport works and asking other people about different neighbourhoods and areas.
There is a wide range of options when looking for housing. As always in life, the more you are willing to pay (i.e. for an agent), the easier your search will be. For an efficient search, you should be familiar with the basic realty terms in Costa Rica. However, the presence of many foreign nationals also mean that many realtors and other services are offered in English next to Spanish.
The most common places to search for realty are:
- Word of mouth
If you want to find a place independently your best bet are the local newspapers, universities, Spanish schools and supermarkets. Another option is through classifieds and forums. The best newspapers to start your search are the Tico Times (www.ticotimes.net) and La Nación. The Tico Times is an English language newspaper. Both rentals and properties for sale can be found under the classifieds. La Nación is Costa Rica’s leading Spanish newspaper but is also available in English online, www.nacion.com. La Nación has a good real estate section on Saturdays.
Once you found a classified, the next problem comes up. Classifieds are filled with abbreviations and deciphering might cause serious headaches. Not only is it hard to find the corresponding Spanish words, Costa Rican Spanish vocabulary and housing options might differ from other Spanish speaking nations. Do not worry, you will soon learn how to interpret the numerous abbreviations. For more help, look at our glossary.