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Costa Rica Residential Real Estate: Understand Zoning Plans Before Purchasing

As a first-time buyer of Costa Rican real estate, you may have a lot of questions about things to pay attention to. This is to prevent future stress. The property zoning data of the land you want to acquire should be one of the first things you look at. Before you buy a home, you should read this article to learn more about the relevance of the Uso de Suelo or the Land Use. 

Residential real estate

Zoning ordinances prohibit residential real estate from being used for other purposes. It can’t be used for commercial real estate or industrial purposes. Check the local ordinances, as laws may vary from one place to another here in Costa Rica.

Residential real estate is for housing use. Such properties include family homes, duplexes, and condos. It includes properties that are rented out by the owner to a renter who lives in the property. It is important to make sure that the property you are buying is intended as residential real estate. 

Zoning in Costa Rica real estate

To understand zoning in Costa  Rica, you should be familiar with the plan regulador. This is the zoning plan in their language. Each city in Costa Rica has its own zoning plan. They need this to preserve proper zoning. It keeps their cities adequate for residential development, while also protecting ecological areas. 

If you are buying land, you must first request the certificación de Uso de Suelo for the specific property. Having this document ensures that the property is in a residential zone. Residential zones are strategically planned to lessen the risks of flooding and landslides.

Some cities outside the metropolitan area may not have zoning plans. Even without it, there may still be restrictions. Bodies of water like springs, rivers, and beaches are protected. If the property is located near any of them, find out the restrictions involved. Get to know more about the maritime law if the property is too near the beach fronts. 

Why should you check the zoning plan for the property you are buying?

It might be easy to tell a residential real estate in some areas where other residences can be found. However, there are a lot of factors that you may find affecting your decision to buy the property. It is important to know what is next door. It is also worth finding out if it fits your expansion plan. 

It is important to find out the prevailing regulations in your area for the type of property you want to buy. Zoning ensures that a property is strategic for its purpose. Factors such as environment and accessibility were considered. Also, room for future developments has a good chance of adding value to your property in the future.  

A zoning request is done by submitting a form to the municipality. You’ll receive this document usually within two weeks. 

Details in the Zoning Plan (Certificación de Uso de Suelo)

The zoning plan will also give you important information about your land. See what they are from the list below. You’ll realize how important they are if you want to build future development. 

  • The smallest size of land that you can subdivide
  • The property’s minimal frontage
  • Building height limit
  • The property’s maximum coverage. This is the percentage of allowed construction in the area.
  • The population density of the area. This is  the number of residents per hectare

Best residential property locations in Costa Rica

There are many beautiful Costa Rica homes to choose from. The real estate market in Costa Rica offers many options for different people. Some want to live near the Pacific Ocean or in a quiet neighborhood. You can have magnificent natural views at an affordable price or you can also just rent real estate in Costa Rica. Costa Rica real estate also offers upscale neighborhoods and residences. They have great amenities, with a beach club or a gated community.

It is convenient to live around or near the Central Valley. It is where you have access to world-class amenities, health care, and services. It is commonly the same with major towns. But there are many excellent locations in Costa Rica.  It all depends on the lifestyle you prioritize. 

Consider small-town living.  A small town can also be an exceptional location for a family home. It is within walking distance of everything you need to live simple and stress-free. Enjoy panoramic mountain views or ocean views every day. 

Your ideal home may be a spacious home with breathtaking views. It is easy to find one in Costa Rica. There are plenty of places to start. To name a few exceptional places, here’s our list of favorite locations. Begin your search for Costa Rican residential real estate here. 

Central Valley

The Central Valley major cities are San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela and Cartago. Enjoy city views from your home in the Central Valley. The houses here are perched in the mountains with a view of the growing city. Like Los Angeles, Central Valley is where the city vibe meets landscape views. This makes for charming residences.

There are also locations in the Central Valley where houses are more secluded. Check out Heredia and suburban posh communities like Escazu. Escazu is just outside the capital San Jose. Learn more about Escazu and everything to love about the place here. 


This town is noted for its white-sand beaches. Surfers and families go here for extended vacations in the tropics. Everything you need may be found in this little town. Apart from the reasons why visitors return, there is more for those who choose to stay.

 In 20 minutes, you can walk from one end of town to the other. The town has all the necessities you’ll require. Furthermore, living here may mean living with stunning beach views from your property. You may also have access to the tranquil beach, all while enjoying the benefits of a bustling little town. 

In Tamarindo, there are also a plethora of housing possibilities. Condos, detached houses, villas, and other types of residences are available. The area is also recognized for its numerous eco-development homes.

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is a small town with a gorgeous beach. It is a peaceful community in the province of Guanacaste. The town is located in the middle of the Papagayo region. It is conveniently located just 20 minutes away from the Liberia International Airport. 

This town, although isolated, is well-developed and has many amenities. Everything here is just a walk or a short drive. Playa Hermosa is a tranquil tourist destination for families. This is mainly because of the calm ocean. It is not crowded, unlike similarly gorgeous destinations in Costa Rica. 

The town is situated in a valley, with developments strewn throughout the hills that surround it. Development properties here have amazing panoramic views. It’s a popular retirement place in Costa Rica. Although small, it has a wide range of choices for residences from condos to family homes.

Costa Rica is a perfect location for your next residential real estate investment

Costa Rica is a land of diversity and opportunities. The real estate market of Costa Rica is a welcoming place to start finding your new home. But you should know where to start. Search homes for sale and start browsing new listings of available residential properties. Make sure you are familiar with zoning and other due diligence you must know as a buyer.

Whether you are looking for a retirement home or a vacation home, Costa Rica’s paradise awaits. Fulfill your Pura Vida dream with Century21 Pura Vida. We will guide you in finding the home of your dreams.

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