Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Real Estate Investing

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Anybody want to buy land in Costa Rica?

So, the other day, I was talking with this guy from church about his impending divorce. It’ll be his second, so there wasn’t much I could tell him that he didn’t already know. And, since he lives in the River Oaks area, there’s going to be a whole lot more money involved than I’ll probably ever see in my lifetime. Again, not much advice I could give him, except, of course, to remind him why one hires a lawyer for these things. I just reminded him that he didn’t need to roll over simply because he was the man and, traditionally, the woman got the lion’s share of the communal property. They’d earned that money together, each contributing their part and he was entitled to his fair share. Besides, at the moment, she actually makes more money than him, so it’s not like he’d be hurting her financially at all. Mainly, though, I “advised” him to let the lawyers haggle it out when things got ugly about the money. Again, that is why one pays for a personal shark in the first place, right?

Anyway, he was talking about investing in real estate in Central America. Specifically, in Costa Rica. Now, a lot of times when guys start in with this kind of thing, I figure it’s somebody trying to impress me, but not with him. Something about the matter-of-fact way he talks about some of this stuff and his plans for developing some of the land and making a resort just ring too true for me to feel like there’s a scam or an ulterior motive. I’ve been wrong before, of course, but, these days, I’m a fairly hardened, bitter cynic and I tend to trust my instincts when it comes to people. Sadly, when I suspect something untoward, I’m rarely wrong.
But, he knows what I do for a living and for fun. He knows, for instance, that I’ve done web design work for my divorce lawyer. And, as a check was on the way, I mentioned that again this weekend when I saw him. Also, it turns out that when you Google Houston Divorce Lawyer, my lawyer already shows up on the second page of hits. Considering that he didn’t show up in the first 20+ pages of hits before I revamped his website, I’d say we’re doing pretty well. A little more time and he’ll be on that Holy Grail of search engine optimization, the first page of Google results.
In any case, I was joking with him, the guy from church, not the lawyer, about how I was in that very unique position of actually making money back from my divorce lawyer. But, it wasn’t long before he was asking about domain names and websites and optimization. And, yes, I found myself volunteering to do a simple website for him and optimize it for the search engines. And, of course, advise him about how to find an URL submission service that would keep his ranking good and high.

And that’s when he jokingly offered to trade me a hectare of land in Costa Rica for doing a website from scratch and optimizing it for the search engines. At least, I think he was joking. I mean, he was sort of laughing about it, but… But, it would be a pretty damn good deal and I’m thinking about calling him to see if he was serious or not. Because, I’ve been looking around at it a little bit and $750 worth of land now could very quickly and easily be over $75,000 some time in the next five years.

And, I was getting ready to tell him I’d do it for nothing.

So, does anyone know about real estate investing in Costa Rica?


  1. yes , land in costa rica , that is not accessible by road is still affordable. Land away from the coast is still affordable. A hectare is a lot of land. Its about $ 2400 an acre last I heard. And that is land that you have to use a 4×4 in order to access, if there is a road near it.

    Land that has power and is accessible, Is not affordable. Its like buying land by the acre in the woodlands or at huffmiester and 290. Several thousand an acre. But it can be purchased if your willing to spend.

    Ask hm how much he thinks a hectare is worth. Then we can chip in and buy one, in addition to the one he is giving you.

    Comment by cj — 9/26/2006 @ 8:06 am

  2. Actually, he was talking about $700-$800/hectare. I think he’s got a local agent that’s getting him some really good deals. Of course, this is land that is away from the coast and doesn’t have a major road through it. Yet. But, he knows they’re building one soon, which is why this is a good investment for him.

    Never a dull moment in my “quiet” life. No matter how hard I try to be boring, Interesting just shows up, grabs on and won’t let go.

    Comment by the Network Geek — 9/26/2006 @ 8:24 am

  3. i live in costa rica. i moved here from the states over a year ago. i also have invested in land here, although more for rain forest preservation rather than with the intent to make a lot of money.

    as CJ mentioned, land here can vary in price depending on accessibility and, of course, the three most important things; location, location and location. there are also other factors like proximity to electricity, phone and water and also if the land is flat or sloped and if it is rainforest or pasture. but, generally speaking, the farther you get from the coasts or from san jose, the cheaper the land will be.

    land prices are rising here daily. but, could $750 worth of land be worth $75,000 in five years? probably not. but anything is possible….we’d have to see exactly where the land is. my guess is that the land is $750 a hectare because it’s far from the beach and possibly up in the mountains or in an area that is hard to access….maybe 4×4 access only. or maybe it can only be accessed on foot or by horse. but who knows? sometimes, if you buy a large quantity of land, like several hundred hectareas, you can get something nice in a good location at a low price per hectare.

    if you do decide to do the web design in exchange for a hectare of land (which is 2.45 acres), you would first need to form a costa rican corporation, since as a US citizen you can’t personally own land here. you can however own a corporation that owns the land. that will cost you about $200 or $300 with a costa rican lawyer. i can direct you to an excellent lawyer down here if you need one. do you speak spanish? ok, after you form your sociedad anonima (corporation) you’ll have to have a survey done of the land in order to be able to draw up a plano for the hectare you will get. i’m not sure what this would cost. then there is other legal work associated with the purchase or acquisition of this land and this can be handled by the lawyer and there are certainly costs associated with this.

    once you have your land, what would you want to do with it? if it’s primary rainforest, you won’t be able to do much with it since all the trees are protected. if it’s pasture land, you could acquire permits to build a house there, but if there’s no access then it will be costly to get the materials to it. if the land is actually easily accessible and somewhat desirable, remember that if you don’t live down here you’ll have to pay someone every month to keep an eye on the property to keep squatters off the land. if a squatter finds the property desirable and starts living there without your knowledge, it could be hard to get them off once they’ve dug in, even if you have clear title.

    anyway, there’s a lot more information to digest before investing in land down here. and unless you live down here or know somebody here who can take care of your property for you, it might not be worth the trouble.

    if you’re interested in relocating down here and you want to find a suitable place to put up a house to live in then it’s certainly worth pursuing. but, if you’re unwilling to give up the comforts and amenities of the US (reliable utilities, well maintained roads, shopping malls, 24 hour convenience stores) then you’d probably want to live in the san jose area. and land in the san jose area is a lot more than $750 a hectare. if you want to live in a relatively safe area in or around san jose, you’ll pay a lot of money. i live in the san jose area at the moment, but personally i wouldn’t want to live here long term. my plans are to escape to the rural areas and rainforest communities where i have some property and live there.


    Comment by mike c — 9/26/2006 @ 9:27 am

  4. Well, I think he was most likely kidding about trading a hectare of land for a website, but, still, stranger things have happened. And, yes, I was exagerating for effect about the increase in price.

    As for the rest… Well, I’m fairly certain it was in the mountains and not very accessable. Yet. My understanding is that there are plans for a “major road” of some kind to go through the area “soon”. Though, what that all means is debatable. He already owns a fairly good sized portion of land there. From his description, it’s two montain tops with the valley inbetween and the beachfront. Or the beach “concession”. That part wasn’t very clear.

    Mainly, the whole idea of rubbing shoulders with a guy like that struck me as so bizarre and unlikely that it was, well, sort of funny.

    Comment by the Network Geek — 9/26/2006 @ 9:35 am

  5. My family owns (undeveloped) property in another state here in the US. Managing and attempting to sell that property is bad enough, I don’t think I’d really want to bother with international real estate if cash were an alternative.

    Comment by tinyhands — 9/27/2006 @ 12:31 am

  6. Actually, Tinyhands, that was my thought, too. Again, assuming this guy was serious, and I’m not entirely sure he was, the problems involved in managing property that I’m not near in a place that has customs and laws with which I’m not familiar, just seemed more trouble than it was worth.

    Still, the fantasy tickled me a little, you know?

    Comment by the Network Geek — 9/27/2006 @ 9:21 am

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