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Why do most homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan?

Why do most homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor planHave you ever wondered why large single-family homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan? They always have the kitchen enclosed, unless they’re built for expats. You’ll find larger homes with an open kitchen only in Atenas and the beach areas. There are several reasons for this.

I think it’s all a matter of culture. Costa Rica is now going through the changes our grandparents (I’m 65 now) went through 30 – 40 years ago.

Families in Europe and in the US were much larger 40 years ago than they are now. The younger generations in Costa Rica have fewer children now too. Gen Z, Millenials, Xennials, and Generation X have fewer or no children, better jobs, and a different lifestyle.

To have a live-in maid or housekeeper in Costa Rica has been quite affordable for many years. The girls and women from the rural areas were cheap to hire as a maid. A 6-day a week – 12-hour a day job, room and board, and Sundays off. The high-quality educational system in Costa Rica made it possible for those rural women to go to school. Now they are all doctors, nurses, and lawyers. In the ’80s, they were replaced by the refugees from El Salvador and Cuba, and later by the Nicaraguans.

Why do most homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan

In some families in Costa Rica, the housekeeper is part of the family. But in most the housekeeper is called a maid and has her own space in the house: the kitchen and her own room.

Socially correct

In Costa Rican society, it is seen as socially correct to have the maid spend most of her time in the kitchen. So it made sense to have that kitchen as a room that is separate from the living and dining room. It was all a matter of keeping her out of sight. Just like we like to keep the dishes, the pots and pans, the fridge, and the stove out of sight.

From Large to Small

I remember the size of the kitchen in my great grandmother’s house; I was little, so everything seemed large to me, but the room was larger than my living room is now. That’s because the family would live mostly in the kitchen, the old lady was always cooking. The kitchen in our own home was tiny little and it was an enclosed room. During the  ’70s, many homeowners started knocking down walls between the kitchen and the living room to create an open floor plan. 10 Years later younger generations started to build homes with a family room.

Open Floor Plan

The open floor plan phenomenon started happening in Costa Rica after the year 2,000. It all started with the construction of condos in buildings. In townhomes, this didn’t start happening until more or less 2008.

Families in Costa Rica now have only 1 or 2 children. The maid comes in once or twice a week, and nobody has a live-in maid anymore. Apartment-style condos don’t have a maid’s room anymore.  In townhouses, the maid’s room (if there is one) is used as an office or cuarto de chunches.

When I started selling Costa Rica real estate, open floor plans and family rooms didn’t exist. Now, most condo apartments in Costa Rica offer an open floor plan. You’ll even find it in some luxury homes, mostly in the beach areas.

Why do most homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan

When looking for a home or a condo with an open floorplan in the Central Valley, contact us. Our agents are very knowledgeable and I’m sure you will have a great buying experience.


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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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