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More tips on how to turn your home into a successful Costa Rica vacation rental

More tips on how to turn your home into a successful Costa Rica vacation rentalLast week, I published the first 3 tips to how to turn your Costa Rica house into a vacation rental. My wife and I have purchased a house in Costa Rica before we are ready to retire and we are trying to cover the cost of the maintenance of the property by renting the property as a vacation rental while we are absent owners. 

The following tips might be useful to you as they help us a lot to get ahead in the game of Costa Rica vacation rentals and generate some nice rental income.

4    Don’t try to do it all at once

Be flexible and willing to think outside the box. I remember when we started to rent, how big a task it seemed. What would we do if…? There are so many things that “could” go wrong…and we were thousands of miles away. In the beginning, we had only our housekeeper, who was recommended by our developer, who also still lived in the development. We relied completely on our developer and his very helpful wife to act as a go-between in dealing with our property. However, they decided to move back to the US, and we had to start to manage things directly.

It took some time, and arrangements are not as efficient as they would be in North America. For example, neither our housekeeper nor gardener/handyman have a computer, so we communicate indirectly through our housekeeper’s daughter. The daughter does not speak English, so we use a web-based translator to communicate with her. It took some time to set up this arrangement, but with patience, it all seems to work fine.


For example, neither our housekeeper nor gardener/handyman have a computer

For example, neither our housekeeper nor gardener/handyman have a computer


5    Start setting up your processes early

This is something I didn’t do, and wish in retrospect that I had. It took a lot of time and money out of our pockets (paying all the expenses, with no money coming in) to get the processes set up. I realize, knowing from the beginning that our intent was to rent, that I could have been working on making contacts and starting to advertise much earlier than I did. I could have started working on my advertising (on the web) even before I closed on the property, and been much better prepared with my local team than I was. This would have perhaps improved the purchase process, because issues arose in these steps that could have been addressed before closing, when I still had some influence over the seller,

6    Keep working to continually improve your processes

Keep in touch with your team, and take time to thank them for efforts “above and beyond“ the norm. For example, when my housekeeper and gardener dealt quickly with the toilet issue mentioned in my other blog, I deposited a small extra in their bank accounts. If several renters ask about a topic, consider including the information in your web listing (assuming you use this medium), so all potential renters can read. I have added specific directions to our house, and information on internet usage to my site, as a result of renter queries.


Renters could refer others to rent from us if they’re positive and happy about our vacation rental


7    Get to know your renters as much as possible

This is another suggestion I, myself, need to work on more. I generally have only been communicating by email with my renters, and simply ask for names and ages of those who will be staying. It occurs to me that if I took more time to communicate, this could be a potential source of future renters, either through future visits to Costa Rica, or by referring others to rent from us. Also, it may help to weed out potential problem renters, which fortunately has not been a problem (perhaps because I have staff right on the property).

8    Use all available means of advertising

I have informed other owners in our development that our house is available for rent. When we travel, I let those we come in contact with (through renting a room in a B&B, or contacts at car rental agencies, or local real estate agents – although you may have to pay), that our property is available for rent. I plan to print up some inexpensive business cards, which we can leave, to make this process even more effective.


We use a web-based translator to communicate with the housekeeper’s daughter

9    Web listing

So far, I use to advertise my property, and after a slow start, it yields a satisfactory response rate. I did put an advert on another site, but removed it when I didn`t like some of their practices. For example, with Homeaway, the renter sends the deposit directly to me, so I have use of that money for several months prior to the rental period. With the other site, the renter sends the deposit (and all payments) to the web site, and I only get paid after the rental is over. This makes Homeaway much more cost effective for me to deal with. I will be looking for other web sites to advertise on (unless Homeaway fills up all my rental time), but carefully checking their policies before taking the time to set up with them.

I`m sure there are many other tips which could be helpful, but these are ones which have arisen, based on my experience. If others occur, as time goes on, I will write another blog. In the meantime, I hope you find these helpful, and I certainly wish you well in your adventures with buying and renting property in Costa Rica. It can be very rewarding, and not just in a financial sense.

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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