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Will you feel at home as much when you rent instead of buying?

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Will you feel at home when you rent a home to retire instead of buyingShould you first rent instead of buying so you can feel at home?

First, do your due diligence before you do anything at all! You might read someplace that you should rent first before you buy. This works for some but doesn’t for everyone. And there are reasons for that.

Therefore, I am going to refer to your option to rent in this article, versus purchasing a property. After that, you can make a  more well-informed decision.

Moving to another country is a big step.  But you need to be motivated to make that step a successful one. Your due diligence period will allow you to figure out what part of Costa Rica will suit you best. This usually depends on your lifestyle, your needs, and your budget.

So, how important is it to rent a home or buy to feel at home?

Perpetual Tourist

A lot of people who are soon retiring have the motivation and desire to retire in the tropics. But, to do so successfully, you need to understand that new lifestyle you have been dreaming about most of your life.

Dreaming about this is easy, but I’m sure you want to do it right! To have the motivation and desire to make it function, be happy, and make it a fruitful enterprise needs harder work than you think. Believe it or not, not that many succeed in reaching their goal.

In my experience, most people who rent are not motivated enough to become residents.  That doesn’t mean they won’t be happy. For some, it’s quite the contrary, although being a perpetual tourist does create some issues with your insurance, driver’s license, and 90-exit visa. But, they will be perpetual tourists until they move back home or move elsewhere.

Some function better by renting because that’s what they’ve done their whole life. They will feel at home anywhere. Others have always lived in a home that they owned. In my experience though, those who rent will never really settle. They’ll throw in the towel as soon as they hit on the first problem.

Life-long Tenants

Some people have plenty of good reasons to not purchase a home when they move to Costa Rica. Here are some reasons why they prefer to rent:

  • Not having enough savings because they have lived from month to month their whole life
  • Their monthly income or pension is just enough to rent
  • Renting means no repair, maintenance bills, and property tax payments
  • They’re much less out of pocket up front, they only pay a first month and security deposit
  • It’s much easier to move to another home or neighborhood if they don’t like the neighbors, the climate, the town, or the country.

Shattered dreams?

In the past 30+ years, I have relocated hundreds of retirees from all over the world to Costa Rica. Most of the time, those who live out of a suitcase while they’re “trying it out”, do NOT succeed in making their dreams come true.  They see their dreams shattered within six months of moving to Costa Rica. The main reason for those shattered dreams is that they were not fully committed to the task at hand.

Will you feel at home when you rent a home to retire instead of buying?

Care to learn?

Some say that 40% of those moving to Costa Rica return home within a year because of culture shock. I don’t know where that percentage came from, as I have never seen any statistics proving this.

Nonetheless, culture shock can be a true hurdle. But if you read my blogs every week that will be taken care of.  You can subscribe at the bottom of this blog.

4 Reasons

Four reasons that some who rent a home to retire might not be successful in adjusting and feel at home here are:

1. Former Homeowners

Have you owned a home your whole life? Then you might find it very difficult to make a rental unit your home. Even if you bring your own furniture and personal belongings.

In a rental unit, the garden will never be like you would want it to be. Also, the kitchen will look so different and you would want to give the walls the color paint you like best. In other words, it’s the personal touches that will allow you to feel at home.

Those who live as perpetual tourists in a sparsely furnished vacation rental are not seriously looking into making Costa Rica their home.

2. No Assistance EVER

When you rent a home from Craigslist or even a realtor, after signing your lease agreement, you are on your own.

When you purchase a home, most good and responsible real estate agents will hold your hand way past the purchase. An agent will introduce you to the fine details of living in a new country. In over 30 years of selling Costa Rica real estate, I have NEVER seen a buyer return home within a year.

3. Burn Your Ships

If you keep your property back home, you will have a place to go back to, in case you can’t adjust to the country.

The fact that you need to work hard to learn the language, and adjust to the country’s customs, is not so important when you have a place to go back to. It will be too easy to say “we tried for a while but we really don’t feel at home”.

There is a huge difference between packing a couple of suitcases versus selling your house and packing a container full of household goods and moving to Costa Rica.

Will you feel at home when you rent a home to retire instead of buying?

4.  Difficult Landlord

Have you always been a homeowner and you are not used to dealing with a landlord? Then you might find out how difficult it can be to deal with a landlord who doesn’t want to fix, upgrade, or replace anything.

Keep in mind that renting is spending the money per month over x number of years. One client rented for six years and he spent $54,000 in rent with nothing to show for. He then decided to buy and purchase a home in the same neighborhood similar to the home he rented. He regretted not buying when he moved to Costa Rica and the price would have been much better six years before. We have had other clients who never regretted paying rent to a landlord and not having the responsibilities of a property owner.

My recommendations

If you are really motivated to rent a home to retire, I recommend:

1.    First book a retirement tour to find out if Costa Rica is a good choice. You have two great choices: Christopher Howards tour.

2.    Do your due diligence on which area would suit you best.

3.    Rent short-term until you have found the home that will make your retirement happy and successful.

4.    Bring your personal belongings to feel at home.

5.    Decide if you want to rent perpetually.

6.    Pick a well-known and responsible real estate agent or organization to assist once you decide to purchase.

6.    When you think you should purchase, start looking at home with expert assistance.

 Will you feel at home when you rent a home to retire instead of buying?

Hopefully, this article will help you take smoother decisions about renting or buying. And, whatever you decide to do, we hope you’re going to be happy!

Keep in mind: The motivation of adjusting to your new home country or behaving like a perpetual tourist for the rest of your life is going to make the difference.

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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, remember GoDutch Realty when talking about your home in Costa Rica to friends and family. 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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4 thoughts on “Will you feel at home as much when you rent instead of buying?”

  • Larry Morgan

    20 February, 2022 at 11:52 am

    I read your blog every sunday. As a LONG time annual visitor to CR your stuff is always “spot on.” Especially today.
    My wife snd I tried hard to move to CR (Atenas.)
    Hired a Realtor who remains a friend. Lived twice for several days in the house we hoped to buy.
    But with both of in our 70’s we just found it to hard to adapt, adjust, and in a word, change our lives.
    We love CR. Will be content to visit a couple of times every year.
    And have nothing but fond memories of our relocation attempts.
    CR remains our “go to spit” on the entire planet. We encourage others to visit and frequently share our experiences and encourage others to give it a try.
    Pura Vida!

    • Ivo Henfling

      20 February, 2022 at 12:14 pm

      thanks for sharing your experiences Larry, that’s much appreciated. Glad you keep up with our weekly blogs, thank you!

  • Len Petry

    20 February, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    Do foreigners who give up on Costa Rica quickly do so mainly because they are renting, and leaving is too easy? If so, then other foreigners who bought houses quickly must be staying mainly because they want to leave but are having problems selling their houses.

    This is not a good reason to buy – sticking it out in Costa Rica simply because you cannot sell your house on favourable terms. Trying to sell a house in Costa Rica for months or even longer is probably NOT going to take the blinkers off and allow you to see delights you missed before. The delights are probably just not there for you.

    No one can really know how it feels to live in a new culture and neighbourhood until you actually live there for at least a few months, maybe a year. So, it makes sense to research different neighbourhoods, make a list of a likely few, and rent in each neighbourhood for about six months each. Only then will you be able to make in informed choice. There are just too many factors to understand via online research or from a few discussions with a real estate agent.

    Remember, the maxim “decide in haste, repent at leisure” really applies in Costa Rica. It is relatively to rent, and easy to buy, but DIFFICULT to sell. Many foreigners have learned that to their regret.

    • Ivo Henfling

      20 February, 2022 at 12:52 pm

      thanks for your wise comments Len. There is a lot to say about that. We’d love to have your experiences in Costa Rica in a blog, when you find the time to write one!


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