Friday, February 1, 2008

Costa Rica Real Estate... San Ramon Style

While the economy has become more global in nature, real estate tends to reflect more local factors. The news from the U.S. is dominated by foreclosures, the subprime mortgage mess and home values plunging in many areas. Costa Rica on the other hand has a booming real estate market with strong demand as the world discovers this special country.

Until recently most of the boom was at the beach, especially the Guanacaste region on the Pacific Ocean and suburbs of San Jose like Escazu. The prices there started to look more like those in the developed world with little local culture to speak of. English and dollars became predominant and the international scene seemed like it could have been in any number of continents or countries.

This is my 7th year living in San Ramon and when I got here, I could count the number of English speakers around town on one hand. Having experienced every part of Costa Rica and every country in Central America, this Central Valley town clearly won my heart. In the last year or so, San Ramon has begun to be discovered by an increasing number of international seekers looking for the perfect place to invest and call home.

There are many reasons for the recent attention being paid to San Ramon. San Ramon has a rich history as the home of many of the architects of the modern Costa Rican state as well as the home of 4 former presidents. We have a good hospital, a branch of the University of Costa Rica, pure mountain water, and mild year-round weather. Being less than an hour from the SJO Airport and the Pacific, San Ramon’s central location is a real asset. And … it’s still quite affordable.

After years of mild real estate demand, prices have just begun to go up fueled by foreign investors. They come for the small city atmosphere that is friendly yet full of activity. And they come for the natural beauty. Just 10 minutes from the center of town there are sweeping ocean views, lush green mountains, and farms with fruit and coffee. After a vacation at Jaco, Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio etc., San Ramon is a breath of fresh air as a potential hometown.

In recent months, our company Paradise Management has sold property to buyers from Europe, India, Central America and North America. The newest Ramonense (locals) have been welcomed by this warm community and are excited to have found an authentic interesting slice of Costa Rica.

I have often gone to beautiful places and said I wish I had bought a house or land years earlier before the boom. This time ... no 20/20 hindsight. I have come to the right place at the right time. I got a little carried away and bought 4 properties. With the weakening dollar, volatile stock market, and sinking yet expensive U.S. real estate… San Ramon property seems like a safe smart move.

The most striking thing of it is … it’s a wonderful place to live in an often crazy world.