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A Tall Order to Rent in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

We want to rent in Costa Rica and are just beginning our searchI get a lot of emails every day, so I have plenty to talk about in my weekly article on Ivo’s blog. Many of those emails are from future ex-pats who plan to move to Costa Rica and are starting their due diligence. Part of this due diligence is finding out which area of the country they will want to live, no matter if they will buy or rent. And this is where the job of a real estate agent starts, they think.

I have always wondered, do some future expats really think a real estate agent is some kind of a tour company and that the agents should give someone who is doing due diligence to see if living in Costa Rica is for them or not, a free tour of Costa Rica property for rent?? Allow me to describe how a client, with a rental budget of $800 – $1,500 wants us to show them homes for rent during their 11 day stay, without telling us when they will make their move to Costa Rica.

This blog gives you all the reasons why we stopped being the Costa Rica real estate agency representing International Living for the Central Valley. The names of the clients below are invented but the rest is not.

Hi Ivo
We just got back from our stay in Alajuela and are returning in April for 11 days. We are from de USA….we would like to see property FOR RENT long term in areas around Escazu, San Antonio de Escazu, Grecia, Los Santos, Berlin etc. We don’t know and have not seen these areas but would like to see what is available in a small clean, NEW if possible, rental within close driving distance of supermarkets, restaurants etc. We understand the area of Escazu is filled with Ex-pat Americans. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Jane & John


We would like a modern apartment, clean and an open floor plan

My answer to their email, right away and being used to this kind of requests, goes as follows:

Thanks for your email Jane & John

What is your budget, do you need furnished or unfurnished and when will you start to rent?

On the same day, I received Jane’s answer:

We are just beginning our search in CR. We are not sure about furnished or unfurnished. If it is furnished it MUST be towards the MODERN look and light appearance, not heavy dark woods…..and VERY CLEAN. Budget is between US $800 to $1500…we only need one bedroom…a nice kitchen and bath….OPEN FLOOR PLAN
Either a high rise or small main floor…NO steps…as for time frame it will not be immediate…depending on what we see will determine our decision to move. Of course we prefer new. I did see several appealing apartments on the site. We will have a car.

Jane & John

We would also like to look at rental property in Berlin

Wow, I had to take a cup of coffee after reading this email and I’m sure that if I had still smoked, I would have lighted one. Or I could start smoking pot for the first time in my life…..Well, MUST be a modern look, not heavy dark woods, open floor plan, very clean, NO steps.

My God, that is a tall order for someone who is just looking around and doesn’t even know when they will move to Costa Rica. So I guess the plan is to look at all those different cities (including Los Santos and even Berlin….) so the client can see if they will like it enough to rent a home in a few years. Maybe they will, but maybe they will rent it from another realtor or maybe from Craig’s list.

We love your referrals at GoDutch Realty

This was my answer to Jane and John, I tried really hard to be nice to them:

I’m really sorry Jane & John but we had to stop doing real estate tours a long time ago. I very well understand that you want to check out not only the areas, but also what is available in your price range and if it suits your expectations. The problem is that what is available for rent now, will not be available by the time you’re ready to move to Costa Rica.

Too much time, energy and gas is being spent on clients just looking and my agents can’t afford showing clients around without getting paid for their work and the cost of touring clients for free is just much too high.

We stopped doing tours a long time ago, the reason we are not International Living affiliated anymore

I hope you understand that. I recommend touring all the areas on your own and stay in a hotel or B & B in each area for a couple of nights and get a good feel of that area. Online, it is very easy to search for rental options in the different locations and most rental listings have good descriptions and photos to give you a general idea of what you can expect. This is the best way to narrow down your search to one of two areas that you like and will suit your lifestyle.

Once you are ready to move, within 1 or 2 weeks of your actual moving date, you can look at the options that are available on the market and if you make sure you bring the first month rent as earnest money with you, you can take anything you see and like off the market right away.

Please feel free to let us know when you have taken a decision which area you’d like to live and when you are ready to move and with pleasure we will show you what is available then in your price range.

Best regards
Ivo Henfling
GoDutch Realty

Unfortunately, Jane and John never answered my last email, so I hope they’re not mad at me because I didn’t do what they wanted me to do. I certainly hope they are able to to their due diligence on their own and they’ll one day give a Costa Rica real estate agent a chance to make a nice commission on a property for rent without running his butt all over the Central Valley.

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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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