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A Condo in Costa Rica well explained

What's the definition of a condo in Costa Rica?What is the definition of a condo in Costa Rica? To many, it’s not very clear. We have a wide selection of condominiums for sale, therefore, I invite you to learn more about them.

In other countries, a condominium is often something different than it is in Costa Rica. Some call it a condo, or a condominium. Others call it a flat, an apartment, a co-op, a loft, or a townhouse.

Therefore, I think it’s time to explain.

If you are ready to move to Costa Rica, and planning to buy a condo, you should know what a condo is.

Formally Organized

A condo in Costa Rica is registered as a “condominio” in the National Register. Not only will you be able to find each property well described in the constitution of this condominium. This constitution also holds the description of all common areas, the bylaws, how the administration but be held, and other important info.

So if you want the full info before buying a condo in Costa Rica, you should pull this constitution (this can run up to over 50 pages) from the National Register.

What's the definition of a condo in Costa Rica?

Condominium in Costa Rica?

A condo in Costa Rica or “condominio” is a property officially registered as such in the National Register of Costa Rica. This property is either subdivided in different manners:

  1. Homesites or building lots, called officially Horizontal Condominium
  2. Townhomes or townhouses, called officially Horizontal Condominium
  3. Condo apartments of one or several buildings of several stories, called officially Vertical Condominium. Some US citizens call a condo only an apartment when it is for rent. In some other places, they just call it either one. Many realtors do call it a highrise condo. To make it easy, I will call it just a condo.


If you purchase a homesite or building lot in a condominium, you will probably find that each lot is registered as an individual, private area and is a percentage of the total size of the community. Streets are probably paved, and there will be sidewalks. The gate will be controlled by a 24-hour guard in a guard’s shack with a bathroom. The community will have its own sewer system and maybe a pool, a playground, and other amenities.

All those belong to the common areas and will be maintained by an HOA fee that will be paid by each owner. HOA fees are usually regulated by the size of the private area. So larger lots pay more HOA fees than smaller lots. The size of the house doesn’t have anything to do with the HOA amount to be paid, what’s important is the lot size.

Many communities like this, only allow for a certain construction style (such as colonial for example) and construction plans have to be approved by a construction committee, besides the normal municipal and code regulations.

Bylaws always indicate what residents can do and what not. This includes having pets, when to stop the parties, how to reserve the pool area and other condo restrictions.

What's the definition of a condo in Costa Rica?


A condominium with townhouses, or townhomes, is usually all built by the real estate developer. All houses are usually the same, although I’ve seen a few with 2 or 3 sizes. The community is also on its own sewer (and sometimes a water backup system) and there are some amenities most of the time, such as a pool.

If you love being around kids, lots of them, this is the place to live. You’ll see small bikes and toys in every carport, and you’ll see kids all over the common area. Mom and dad are used to the fact that their kids are loud and noisy. You might not be.

You’ll find communities with townhouses of all sizes and prices. But usually, these are starter homes. So if you’re retired, a condo in Costa Rica, with rows of townhouses, once stuck to the other, might not be for you.

Condo Apartments

You’ll find the vertical condos in higher-density areas, although there are also amazing high-end condo apartments that are like a mansion. They are always located in a building(s) and again share common areas, water treatment plant, sewer, pool, and other amenities.

Most condos in a building have a large space between floors, so there won’t be any noise from those living above you. But check before you buy. You might not like the high heels your neighbor uses.

Normally rules include residents having pets or not and hanging laundry from the balcony.

The latest fashion is to have a condo in a mixed zoning area where you will have a more urban lifestyle than elsewhere. Access to groceries and restaurants is becoming more and more important. Something to seriously check on is the parking space that belongs to this condo.

Gated Community

A gated community is not a legal term in Costa Rica. In fact, all condominiums are gated communities. But not all gated communities are a condo in Costa Rica.

A real gated community has a guarded gate at the entrance. These guards will control access. Besides, there is a wall or fence all around the community. AND the community has formal bylaws or CC & R’s.

What's the definition of a condo in Costa Rica?

Agrarian Community

Mostly in rural and beach areas, you’ll find one of those agricultural communities or “parcelas agricolas“. This used to be a model that allowed developers to subdivide a farm meant for agricultural use, into 5,000 or 7,000 m2 lots.

Officially, the city allows for only one house on each lot (for the farmer to live in). But generally, the city regulations allow for one home + guesthouse + pool. You’ll find those communities typically in locations such as Atenas, Grecia, Puriscal, and the mountains close to the beach.

Ask your lawyer to check the legality of the bylaws that the developers of this type of communities created.

This type of gated community usually only has a “gate” but not more than a barbwire fence around the community.

Survey Maps

In all three options, the developer had to subdivide the condominium into a certain amount of condos/lots. Therefore each condo, building lot, or townhouse has to have its own survey. The survey will always show the whole community and will point out the particular condo/lot.

In my next blog, I’ll tell you more about the pros and cons of buying in a condominium

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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.

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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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