Free 200+ Page eBook

Top 57 Places to Live & Invest in the Tropics

Quickly find out which country is right for you.
No-hype updates & resource guides. No Spam. Ever.
Limited offer. Instant Download.

Join More than 58,187 people who are breaking free

we value your privacy

Hot Real Estate Offer

Today we have a guest post written by Kent Davis, owner of one of the most successful real estate brokerages in Panama City

panama city panama real estate update

The Panama City real estate market may have finally taken a turn in 2018 following more than three years of very little price appreciation.

Sales figures in the resale and pre-construction market in Panama’s capital city are higher than 2017 and 2016 figures, in some cases by double digits. The reason for the pick-up can be attributed to a number of factors, including a weakening dollar, increased government spending, and a resurgence in tourism, which is benefiting from renewed state and private campaigns touting Panama as “the place to visit” in 2018.

For starters, the weakened dollar has been luring Europeans and Canadians back to Panama since the 3rd quarter of last year, bringing fresh eyes and new investors to a still relatively unknown property market (and vacation destination) to the rest of the world.

And, given that the sales cycle is 6-12 months from the first time a potential investor visits Panama to the time they actually make a purchase, a pick-up in the Panama real estate market from foreign buyers makes sense based on more visitors to Panama.

The local market (made up of Panamanian and foreign buyers already based in Panama) has also seen increased purchasing activity due to a slight uptick in consumer confidence and as more government projects are awarded during the last full year of President Varela’s 5 year term.

Following the establishment of formal diplomatic relations last year, the other story that everyone is talking about but where no one can predict the outcome is, of course, Chinese interest in Panama.

Homeowners in markets like Vancouver, San Francisco, and London can attest to the effects of a Chinese run on the market. But that’s not comparing apples to apples — diminutive Panama City (population 1.5 million) pales in size to these major cities, making it even harder to predict what the Chinese interest will do to Panama property prices.

One thing is for sure: state-run and privately owned Chinese companies are already moving to Panama, scooping up entire floors of office space and renting downtown apartments for their expat staff. And while they have not had a major impact on rental prices yet, anytime a large, well capitalized demographic moves in to a country as small as Panama, the real estate market feels it.

Interestingly, the Chinese also seem to be betting on an uptick in demand from Chinese buyers: just follow the launch of DAO, Panama’s most ambitious real estate project to date by far.

DAO is a 61 story “super-lux” project, which aims to bring the “hotel service, ultra premium” concept to Panama — and the market has taken note. Sales in DAO Panama have been bucking what is generally a lackluster pre-construction market in Panama. In fact, the Chinese are reporting that during their pre-launch phase they already have over 20% reserved for early buyers.

But at the end of the day, the Panama skyline is still dotted by cranes building new towers, so it remains to be seen how this first Chinese project will be received by local buyers.

Adding credence to the trend, Panama’s local and foreign bank branches, usually known for ultra-conservative lending policies, are also starting to ease restrictions on foreign buyers — a segment that has seen pent-up demand due to a lack of available credit.

News that Scotiabank Panama has opened up lending to non-resident foreigners is likely to bring a very important segment, sidelined for nearly four years, back to the market.

All in all, while five months is not enough time to pin down a solid trend, we believe enough signs are pointing to a recovery in Panama City’s condo market. It might just be the new (old) game in town — and the bets are starting to come in.


Kent Davis is Managing Director of Panama Equity Real Estate. He is an expat living in Panama since 2007 and his articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, The Financial Times, among others. For more information, please visit

It’s easy to find tons of articles and information out there highlighting all the great benefits of living in Costa Rica.

But it’s also easy to read those blogs and marketing pieces and think, “Yeah, it sounds great and all, but can it really be as perfect as all that yoga and ‘pura vida’ and dazzling sunsets I keep hearing about.”

living in Costa Rica


Yeah, it can.  But that doesn’t mean that living in Costa Rica is without its share of annoyances and headaches.  It is after all a developing country, albeit a breathtakingly gorgeous one with a relaxed vibe and some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.

To help you decide if it’s really the right place for you to work and live and play, we’ve unpacked the whole truth about living in Costa Rica.  

Our intent is not to discourage you from making the country your expat home.  Costa Rica is one of the most popular expat destinations in the world for a reason.  It’s because the amazing benefits easily outweigh the bad, in the minds of most expats.

What we do want to do is to give you a clear picture of what you could expect in your day-to-day life living in Costa Rica.

For some, pura vida can be an acquired taste.

Meaning “pure life,” pura vida is the unofficial slogan of Costa Rica, or at least the country’s collective philosophy.  This laid-back attitude is one of the main characteristics that draws many expats to the country in the first place.  Yet it’s also one of the ones that frustrates North Americans the most, after the honeymoon phase wears off.

This concept of slowing down to enjoy life, letting things just roll off your back, and relaxing your expectations is a great outlook to adopt.  It’s likely one of the reasons Costa Ricans are among the healthiest and happiest cultures in the world.

Side effects of a pura vida overdose

Living and doing business in a pura vida culture can involve things like not receiving your mail for unexplained reasons, waiting days for your power to be restored after a minor outage, or even having a string of multiple repairmen fail to show up to fix your roof.

One big contributor to the pura vida frustration is the phrase “mañana,” which you probably thought meant “tomorrow.”  It doesn’t.  At least, not usually.  It could mean Friday, next Tuesday, the beginning of October, or even never.  However, the one thing it does always mean is “not today.”

The same relaxed approach to getting things done applies to most services and government operations as well.  Most infrastructure is poorly maintained.  The roads are in poor condition. Street signs and building numbers rarely exist.  And buses are somewhat unreliable since they change their routes depending on road conditions, especially during the rainy season.

The steps you were told you needed to take last month to get your visa or a building permit may be completely different than the response you get when you go back to the same office with that first set of paperwork completed.

It’s even worse than your worst experience at the DMV.  Processes that should take weeks can take years, and that can be incredibly frustrating to someone who’s accustomed to much more consistent and systematic ways of doing things.

Your best bet?  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  If you go into the process knowing what to expect, you can be better prepared to roll with the punches, remain patient and calm, and just keep moving the ball forward at every opportunity.

Losing your temper and blowing up at the underpaid, overworked immigration employee or customer service representative will get you nowhere.  A deep breath, a polite “gracias,” and a smile can work wonders.

Living in Costa Rica

Jeremy Vandel

When living in Costa Rica, you can’t escape the country’s untamed natural surroundings.

Costa Rica’s economy is heavily dependent on ecotourism.  And if you’ve even seen so much as a single photo slideshow highlighting the country’s natural beauty, then you can easily see why.

This Central American country literally has it all, with terrains and eco-climates ranging from long stretches of undeveloped coastline to towering volcanoes to dense jungles and rainforests to lush valleys to waters teeming with all sorts of exotic marine life to inland lakes, streams, and rivers with cascading waterfalls.  We could go on and on.

These wild and rugged settings form a backdrop for all manner of tropical species.  And you don’t have to go to a nature preserve to see them, because they’ll come to you!

Sounds awesome, right?  Well, not always.

This could mean everything from spotting monkeys and toucans in your garden to finding scorpions in your house or even bats in your toilet.

Among the most prevalent unexpected guests are insects.  There are crawling critters in Costa Rica of which you’ve never seen the likes in North America.  And, unfortunately, they’re unavoidable.  The humid beach towns, particularly along the Caribbean coast, are often plagued with mosquitoes, which can carry dengue fever.

Ants are a problem everywhere, and they bite.  So clean kitchens and secure food storage are essential to ward them off.  Termites can also invade and cause considerable property damage.  And you might see cockroaches as big as your hand.

What can be done about these unwelcome intruders?  Not much.  However, they do seem to be more prevalent (and grow quite larger) in the coastal areas.  So, the less humid mountainous regions might be a better fit for you if you’re someone who loses his cool over the tiniest spider sighting.

Outside of trying to find a spot less populated with critters, just do your best to be on the lookout for them.  Check your shoes before you stick your foot in.  Shake out blankets and sleeping bags before you curl up in them.  Things like that.

living in Costa Rica

Abid Karamali

The weather is great most of the time, but when it rains it pours.

In North America, the way you choose your desired temperature is by adjusting your thermostat.  In Costa Rica you can tweak your weather by carefully selecting your location and, more specifically, your elevation.  

Are you looking for a year-round consistent climate with temps in the low 70s and the anticipated daily shower each afternoon?  Try the Central Valley, near San Jose, which thousands of expats already call home.

Are you OK with enduring a little more heat and humidity in exchange for the laid-back lifestyle of one of the country’s amazing beach towns? Then try a quaint little village on the coast.

A word of caution, though.  The country’s rainy season runs from May to November.  And, depending on where you live, “rainy” could mean anything from the aforementioned afternoon shower to torrential downpours that go on for days on end.  The Caribbean coast gets more rainfall than the Pacific, particularly the eastern slopes of the Central Cordillera mountains.

How bad can a little bit of rain be?

Here’s how that plays out in real life.  As we mentioned, Costa Rica isn’t know for the quality of its roads.  Add 10 or more inches of rain in a month’s time, and that situation doesn’t exactly improve.  The roads, as well as your own property, will at times be a muddy mess.

The rest of the country’s infrastructure can also fail, with power and water outages being quite common.  And the utility companies’ attitudes towards affecting a speedy restoration of service can be enough to send an impatient North American right over the edge.

The persistent rainfall, plus the lack of sunshine to dry things out, can result in a lot of your belongings (Think outdoor furniture and patio cushions.) becoming moldy.  Oh, and all that nature we talked about?  The rain and flooding often send select members of it (Think bugs and snakes.) right inside your home looking for refuge.

How can you combat these issues as a newcomer?  For starters, use care when selecting your destination city and make sure to experience what it’s like in the wet season before you buy property.

Outside of that, there’s not much you can do.  Except rest in the knowledge that once the balmy summer weather arrives (December to April), the downpours and flooding will all just seem like a bad dream.  Until next year.

Living in Costa Rica


You’ll love the many opportunities for adventure, but you won’t be the only one.

Costa Rica’s [mostly] great weather and amazing natural beauty have made it extremely popular as an expat and tourist destination.  As a result, there are tons of ways to experience the outdoors and get your adrenaline going.  

You can go deep sea fishing and reel in a record-breaking catch, soar through the canopy and see the rainforest via zipline, go whitewater rafting on a raging river, hike to the top of a volcano, learn to surf on some of the world’s best waves, or even just enjoy the exotic flora and fauna that’s all around you.

It would be wrong to keep all this a secret.

With so many great opportunities to enjoy nature, there are understandably a lot of visitors to Costa Rica.  So much so that some expats complain that it’s a bit too touristy.  

It really depends on your preference whether or not that presents a problem for you.  Some expats welcome the constant influx of individuals from all walks of life.  Some would rather feel more like pioneers who were the first and only ones to discover such a hidden gem of an expat destination.

The general consensus?  Most people who’ve settled in Costa Rica for the long haul agree that the varied and diverse culture is part of what makes the country so great.  The welcoming, anything goes approach affords a lot of chances to meet new people and learn about other cultures.

The country’s popularity as a tourist destination can also be quite profitable for entrepreneurs living in Costa Rica.  All those visitors need food, lodging, tour guides, and other niche services that savvy expat investors are more than willing to provide.  Costa Rica is a great investment opportunity.

living in Costa Rica

Medea Material

Costa Rica is incredibly safe, as long as you use good sense.

Compared to many of its Central American neighbors, Costa Rica is extremely safe.  Its homicide rate is 10.3 people per 100,000, second in the region only to Nicaragua at 8.7.

Violence like rape and hate crimes are almost unheard of, even though–when they do occur to visiting North Americans–you’re very likely to hear about it on the news.  Due to the country’s peace-loving nature and stable government, there are also no riots or other political uprisings.  In fact, it’s often referred to as the Switzerland of the Americas.    

No country is immune to the increasing global crime rates

That being said, Costa Rica still has its share of petty crimes.  The good news is that much more of them are property-related.

Homes, particularly those that are only used seasonally, are frequently broken into.  Tourists are often pickpocketed.  And leaving items unattended in an unlocked vehicle or lying around outside your home is a good way to ensure they won’t be there when you come back.

Prevention is key for those visiting or living in Costa Rica.  If you’re a tourist, try not to look or act like one.  Don’t wear loads of flashy jewelry, accessories, sunglasses, etc.  Limit any excessive carrying of electronics like camera, smartphones, iPods, and other devices.  And, whatever you do, don’t go waving around wads of cash, particularly large bills.

As long as you use common sense and stick to the more traveled and well-lit thoroughfares, especially at night, you should be just fine.

If you’re a resident, don’t leave expensive items outside your home.  Lock up any outbuildings.  And install a security system on your home, especially if you don’t live there year-round.

living in Costa Rica


The cost of living is good, but not the best in the region.

A major perk of becoming an expat in Central America is the low cost of living, compared to the price of the same goods and services in North America.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some great health food options, are widely available.  They’re also extremely affordable.

Some great properties can be had at a fraction of what a comparable sized home (in the same incredible setting) would run you in the U.S.  Utilities are cheap, as in many areas you don’t even need to heat or cool your home.  Indulgences like a hour-long massage might cost as little as $10.

Taxes are also low, with property taxes rarely exceeding a few hundred dollars.  There are also significant tax savings for foreigners.

Two of the biggest savings for those living in Costa Rica are domestic help and health care.  The services of a maid, gardener, or other domestic worker can be as low as a few dollars per day, a luxury most people could hardly afford in a first-world setting.

Health care, while arguably first-world caliber, is also a great deal.  Costa Rica has a state-run health system whose quality has been ranked higher than that of the U.S.  The hospitals are clean and modern.  Most doctors are U.S.-trained and English-speaking.  These are some of the reasons Costa Rica has become a popular destination for medical tourism.

How could there be a downside to this?

Well, there isn’t really.  Except for the fact that there are definitely cheaper places to live in Central America.  So, while Costa Rica is not the cost leader, it makes up for any higher prices with its exceptional quality.

If cost is a driving factor in your decision-making process, then you might want to look at some other destinations in Latin America.  However, just remember that the old adage about getting what you pay for is true more often than not.  

There are a lot of North American expats living in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has long been a hotspot for North American expats, and it shows.  The North American influence is everywhere.

There are large, well-connected expat communities in most of the more popular towns.  They have gardening clubs, gringo poker night, food and wine tastings, and other social gatherings.  There are even programs specifically geared towards helping newcomers acclimate to their expat home.  

You could literally find something to do every night of the week if you wanted to.

Why is this a problem?

This type of North American-influenced lifestyle is precisely the reason that many expats left in the first place.  As a result, it may be a turnoff to some.  Again, it really depends on your preference.

Decide now what level of expat community you’re after.  The good news is that it’s easy to gauge your tolerance for a high density of other expats.  Just visit the place and see what you think.

If you want more opportunities to immerse yourself in the authentic culture, without having English constantly spoken to you or receiving flyers about the latest production at the expat theater, then choose a less-developed spot with fewer North Americans.

If you think being around other folks who’ve walked a mile in your shoes might help you and your family better transition to your new life, then it’s as simple as looking for posters announcing the next meeting of the expat group or finding a forum where you can get connected before you even make the move.

Also take into consideration your other family members, like your children, and their needs.  Having English-speaking friends can make a world of difference in those all-important first weeks and months in a new place.

While many of these and other factors about living in Costa Rica may seem like a lot to sort through, most all of them can be easily weighed by just scheduling a trip to bring your family down and decide for yourself.

Worst case scenario?  You’ll have one of the best vacations of your lives.  Best case?  You could find the home you’ve always dreamed of.

Map of Costa Rica

Costa Rica Fast Facts

  • Population: About 4.8 million
  • Typical temperature: Mid 80’s
  • Nearest airport with U.S. flights: San Jose
  • Nearest U.S. consulate: San Jose

A deeper look at Nosara and its history will quickly reveal that this long-time mecca for surfing enthusiasts offers so much more than just the sand and sea. The increasing interest in the area as a destination for families looking for a healthier lifestyle has helped Nosara evolve from its early beginnings into a place where both body and soul can be nurtured.

The town’s metamorphosis from surf haven to an established community immersed in sustainability, healthy living, and dedicated to the “green” lifestyle continues to draw both visitors and expats looking to find a destination that can help body, mind, and spirit thrive in concert with each other.

discovering nosara nosara costa rica

Discovering Nosara: A Brief History

From their arrival in the mid to late 16th century, the Spanish converted much of the Nicoya Peninsula, including the area that we know now as Nosara, into large cattle ranches. It remained in that state until 1962 when Alan Hutchinson, an entrepreneur and developer, purchased a large tract of land (roughly 3,000 acres) that he hoped to transform from pasture land into something more desirable.

It was his concept to build a sustainable upscale resort community known as “The Beaches of Nosara.” Hutchinson’s idea, which became known locally as the “American Project,” never materialized although it did lead to the creation of the Nosara Civic Association. This local organization has dedicated itself to reforestation and the preservation of the natural and ecological beauty of the region and directly to the growth of the Nosara of the 21st century.

Ironically, it was a short time later when surfers began to discover the great potential for surfing in Playa Guiones and the surrounding beaches. The combination of great surf breaks, a laid-back vibe, and the “off the beaten path” location made Nosara the perfect place to find that “endless summer.”

Fast Forward to the Present

As the 20th century drew to a close, Nosara transformed itself into the focal point for expats desiring an all-natural lifestyle with an emphasis on healthy living. The proliferation of yoga retreats and alternative healing centers has merged well with the surfing community.

For those discovering Nosara for the first time, there are a number of yoga surf camps that combine the best of both worlds. In addition to the surfing schools in the area, the Nosara Yoga Institute has gained worldwide acclaim as one of the premier training centers for yoga instructors.

Nosara and the Nicoya Peninsula have also gained prominence as one of the “blue zones” for longevity thanks to Dan Buettner’s popular book of the same name. This aesthetic mixture of lifestyles found in and around Nosara is unique, not only in the Latin Tropics, but across the globe as well.

Merging Sustainability and Planned Growth

The Nosara Civic Association has worked tirelessly to ensure that real estate development can occur in a planned fashion that will not sacrifice the environment and ecological beauty of the region. The permanent 170-acre “Green Zone” and the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge are two prime examples of the importance given to balancing nature with growth in the area.

Finding property that can be developed, or purchasing an existing structure is still an affordable option. While there are a number of upscale owners seeking to build higher-end homes in the Nosara area, there are also opportunities for those with more modest budgets.

discovering nosara costa rica

The Desirable Intangibles of Nosara

Beyond the surfing and the yoga, Nosara has many other, less obvious, features that commend it as one of the most desirable expat locations in the Latin Tropics. Nosara’s intangible benefits are equally important considerations for those considering relocating to the region.

Family Friendly

One of the biggest draws of Nosara, Costa Rica is the family-centered community in and around Nosara. Unlike many surfing communities, Nosara is not a “party town” but features a close-knit sense of belonging that welcomes families with children and retirees as well as outdoor sports enthusiasts.

The creation of two bilingual schools has helped foster this type of lifestyle that offers more time for parents and children to interact. Additionally, the wide variety of outdoor activities (beyond surfing) helps to nurture young bodies in concert with educational growth.

Language Is Not a Barrier

One of the intangible benefits of the growth of the expat population in Nosara is the increasing use of English in the area. Being able to shop, make appointments, and even interact with your neighbors, without constantly needing a translator, can make adjusting to your new expat life much easier.

Nature and Art: Two Forms of Beauty

The Nosara region combines the natural beauty of the environment as well as a growing arts community. The hamlet of Montezuma, a short distance from Nosara, is home to the annual Costa Rica International Film Festival as well as a number of artist communes and craft shops.

The Ostional Reserve (mentioned above) is home to olive ridley and leatherback sea turtle populations that are known across the globe for their ecological importance. Nosara’s beaches are recognized annually with the Blue Flag award for cleanliness. Its water table is the cleanest in Costa Rica, thanks largely to the commitment of community leaders to maintaining this standard for quality of life.

Nosara Is Waiting for You

With everything that it has going for it, discovering Nosara should be at the top of your list if you are considering a move to the Latin Tropics. Visit, experience and immerse yourself in this eclectic tropical location and find out if Nosara, and all it offers, are right for you.

What was once the up-and-coming expat haven of Nosara, Costa Rica, has blossomed into one of Costa Rica’s most established expat communities that continues to be ranked near the top of the list of most desirable destinations in the Latin Tropics.

There are few places on earth that can boast of having a dedication to outdoor activities, such as surfing, blended with a lifestyle focused on sustainability as well as the environment, and other beneficial pursuits, such as yoga and meditation. Add in the Costa Rican vibe of “pura vida” (literally “pure life”), and the result is a magnetic draw for retirees, young families looking for a slower pace of life, and investors seeking a great return on investment.

expats still like nosara

Expats Still Like Nosara for Its Real Estate Potential

One of the reasons that expats still like Nosara is the variety of options that exist in the real estate market. While there are an increasing number of upscale owners seeking to build or buy luxury homes, the Nosara Civic Association continues to make a concerted effort to ensure that the natural beauty and the environment are not overwhelmed with development.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, there are many affordable and rustic properties in and around the village of Nosara itself. Importantly, there are also a number of lots that can be reasonably purchased so that expats can build their own tropical escape.

Looking at a list of properties in the area can help potential expats explore the potential that exists. Whether you are seeking your tropical retreat, or considering a longer term investment option, it can be found in Nosara.

Nosara Is Poised for the Future

As the brainchild of American developer Alan Hutchinson Nosara was originally planned to be a resort community. While the “American Project” never materialized, the foreigners who discovered the beauty and potential of the region dedicated themselves to aggressively reforesting the former cattle ranch into one of the premier “Green Zones” that exist throughout Costa Rica.

The Nosara Civic Association zealously protects the roughly 170 acres of Green Zone land that is distributed throughout the former project site. Any future development in the Nosara area will be part of a planned growth model to maintain the balance between humans and nature. This measured approach has become a model for other projects throughout Costa Rica and the Latin Tropics.

expats still like nosara

Activities for the Body and Soul

One of the premier reasons that expats still like Nosara is the unique mix of outdoor activities with more spiritual aspects such as yoga, meditation, and alternative health. Being able to immerse oneself in such a wide variety of pursuits, in a stunning and diverse ecological location, continues to provide an irresistible draw for those who are seeking to find a place outside the ordinary.

Surfing and More

As a top-rated surfing destination, Nosara’s beaches and natural surf breaks have drawn enthusiasts who seek the “endless summer” for decades. The near-perfect year-round climate makes enjoying the beach, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, and other outdoor pursuits an easy and enjoyable task.

Yoga, Meditation and Alternative Health

As a counterpoint to the surf culture, Nosara has also become known, particularly in the last decade, as a destination for yoga and yoga retreats, meditation camps, and alternative medicine and health. Combining a holistic lifestyle with high-energy sports may seem like a cultural contradiction but these pursuits are actually the perfect complement to one another. In Nosara the two approaches blend perfectly.

Expats Still Like Nosara for Its Family-friendliness

For younger expat families, finding a place where children can thrive can often be a difficult challenge. Nosara, Costa Rica has become one of those rare destinations that can truly be said to be welcoming to families of all types.

The creation of two bilingual private schools, as well as the great variety of kid-friendly activities like sports and nature-focused initiatives, have contributed to the growth in the number of expat families considering a move to Nosara. Even more important is the relaxed pace of living that allows for more interaction between parents and children, something that is often lacking in the 24/7/365 hustle of major metropolitan areas.

A Healthier Way to Live

Dan Buettner’s recent book, “Blue Zones,” identified the Nicoya Peninsula as one of the places around the globe whose residents seemed to live longer, healthier lives. Nosara’s location, in the middle of the peninsula, has become a focal point for many expat families who want to add longevity to their lives and the lives of their children. Having a focus on a sustainable lifestyle continues to be one of the major considerations for those looking for a better quality of life.

The Best Way to Discover Why Expats Still Like Nosara Is to Go There

Nosara promises to be an important expat destination both now and moving forward. But what makes Nosara desirable differs from person to person. So don’t just take my word for it. The best way to see if Nosara is a fit for you and your family is to visit and experience both the ambience and the activities that await you there.

When you hear people applaud Nosara for its laid-back rustic vibe, what you may not realize is that despite it’s off-the-beaten-path atmosphere, Nosara is also surprisingly well connected. As such, this Costa Rican hotspot continues to be one of the most desirable locations for expats and visitors to the Latin Tropics.

Nosara, Costa Rica perfectly combines the beauty and tranquility of nature, the high-energy infusion of surfing, and the mellow, relaxed vibe of yoga and meditation. It’s truly an all-encompassing piece of paradise.

But what it also has, that many similar destinations lack, are 21st century conveniences and amenities that rival those you’d find in many First World cities. Buildings feature high-end materials. Cellular service and internet connectivity are easily available. All this is due largely in part to the careful and intentional way the town has grown.

nosara rustic yet connected

Contemporary Homes in a Rustic Setting

Nosara’s founders had a plan to see their town grow the right way, with a commitment to complementing, not overwhelming its natural beauty. And those who have followed in their footsteps have retained this same approach. The result? Modern, contemporary homes surrounded by the beautiful, untouched tropical landscape.

Indoor/outdoor living is king, with many homes having spaces that expand from interior living rooms onto outdoor patios with tropical canopies before trickling out into gardens, pools, and outdoor kitchens. Homes offer bonus features such as solar panels, greenhouses, yoga floors, and many other amenities necessary for sustainable, healthy living.

As you might expect, there isn’t a lot of bargain basement real estate in and around Nosara. But if “cheap” is your Number 1 criteria for finding your perfect place in paradise, then you’ve probably already figured out that Nosara isn’t right for you. What Nosara offers is an unrivaled quality of life, and its real estate — while not the lowest prices in the Latin Tropics — represents an incredible value.


Nosara: Many Options to Experience “Pura Vida”

The phrase “pura vida” (literally “pure life”) has become the catchphrase to describe living in Costa Rica. There is no place in the country that exemplifies the essence of “pura vida” better than Nosara.

Life Is Still a Beach

Nosara’s long standing reputation as a great beach and surf town has not diminished with the growth in the area. National Geographic lists Nosara among the top 20 surfing cities worldwide while TripAdvisor lists it as number 8 in the top 10 beaches in Central America.

Nosara and Guiones Combine Natural Beauty with Luxury

The area around Nosara, including Guiones, has become a magnet for upscale expats seeking to build high-end retreats with 21st century amenities. Even with this growth spurt, the Nosara Civic Association aggressively works to preserve the natural beauty and the environment of the 170-acre “Green Zone” to ensure that development will not overtake the essence of what makes Nosara special.

Eco-tourism lodges, yoga spas, surf hostels, and high-end hotels provide an eclectic range of lifestyle options. Whether you need to stay connected to the 24/7/365 world or want to be completely “off the grid,” you can find a place in Nosara to fit your desire.

nosara rustic yet connected Costa Rica

Connections to Nosara: Virtual and Logistical

Getting to Nosara is easier than one might imagine. While the traditional method of driving the length of the Nicoya peninsula is still popular, Costa Rica is not exactly known for the quality of its roads. The good news is that SANSA, a domestic Costa Rican airline, offers inexpensive flights from both Liberia and San Jose to the regional airport in Nosara.

For those looking for a more relaxing and scenic alternative, the ferry across the Bay of Nicoya provides a different way to experience the Nicoya Peninsula. This roughly one hour ferry trip from Puntarenas is a great way to get you and your vehicle to the Nosara area without the need of navigating the roads on the peninsula.

One of the key benefits to the growth in and around Nosara is the improvement in Internet and Wi-Fi services. Many of the hotels, hostels, and cafes offer free Wi-Fi that can make staying connected much less stressful.

Nosara: Rustic, Connected, and Waiting for You

If you are seeking a place that combines a rustic, laid-back vibe with modern connectivity and easy accessibility, Nosara may just be the answer for you. Planning a visit to this special area in Costa Rica is the best way to decide for yourself if this is the place for your tropical retreat. Go once, and you may just decide to stay and live the pure life forever.

There are surprising facts about Nosara that highlight why it continues to be the top expat destination in Costa Rica. While the region has long been known as a surfers’ mecca, there is more to this tropical location than meets the eye.

The essence of what makes Nosara a unique place begins with its history and continues to grow to this present day. There are few places in the tropics that bring together the natural and aesthetic vibe like this special location on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Surprising Facts About Nosara

Surprising Facts About Nosara’s History

There are a couple of surprising facts about Nosara from a historical perspective that many expats are not aware of. This background is one of the primary features that has contributed to the desirability of Nosara as a place to build a tropical paradise.

Nosara was not always part of Costa Rica.

One surprising fact about the Nosara area is that it did not always belong to Costa Rica. Prior to 1824, Nosara and the entire Nicoya Peninsula were part of the Spanish province of Nicaragua. On July 25th, 1824, the Central American Federal Republic signed a law transferring the entire Guanacaste Province, including the Nicoya Peninsula, to Costa Rica.

Even then, the region maintained a unique autonomy of its own. Finally, in 1848, the territory gained provincial status as part of Costa Rica.

A North American put Nosara on the map.

Another surprising fact about Nosara is that it was actually the brainchild of a North American. Alan Hutchinson, an entrepreneur and developer, purchased a large cattle ranch (several thousand acres) in 1962, with the idea of building a resort community he called “The Beaches of Nosara.”

The “American Project” (as it came to be known locally) never came to fruition. However, it did call attention to the region and its attractiveness for expats looking for someplace different.

One of the most positive aspects of the American Project was the creation of the 170-acre permanent Green Zone. This vital natural area is a testament to the community’s desire to balance the interest of people with the interests of the environment.

More Surprising Facts About Nosara

The kind of opportunities for expat living that can be found in Nosara today cover a wide range of choices. There is something for everyone in this unique location.

Surprising Facts About Nosara

Yoga in Nosara, Costa Rica is the new surfing.

Nosara has long been recognized as one of the best surfing destinations in the world.  In 2017, Nosara was ranked number one among the fastest growing surf towns worldwide. The combination of unsullied beaches and good natural surf-breaks have helped build on Nosara’s reputation as a surfers’ paradise.

What fewer people know is the fact that the area in and around Nosara has become home to a large number of yoga, meditation, and alternative health retreats. There are also a number of spas that combine yoga and surfing, two activities that complement each other well in so many ways.

Live a longer, healthier life in Nosara.

In his book Blue Zones, Dan Buettner identified the Nicoya Peninsula as one of the top “longevity hotspots” around the globe. Nosara’s location, in the heart of the peninsula, may well be “ground zero” for longer life spans.

Expats seeking to escape the incessant drumbeat of the 24/7/365 “always on” existence of the modern world can immerse themselves in the more laid-back ambiance of Nosara and rediscover what it means to just stop and take a breath. With a lifestyle focused on sustainability, combined with the cleanest water table in Costa Rica, Nosara can provide a healthier approach to daily life.

It’s family- and language-friendly.

A truly surprising fact about Nosara is that, unlike most surf/beach towns, it is not a frenetic party town. The more relaxed atmosphere is conducive to a family-friendly environment. The location of two bilingual schools in a neighborhood setting can make transitioning for the youngest expats much less stressful.

Additionally, with the growing number of expats and visitors to the region, finding English speakers is easier than it might be in other parts of the Latin Tropics. Daily tasks, like shopping or making appointments, do not require such a robust command of the Spanish language.

Surprising Facts About Nosara

The Most Amazing Fact About Nosara: The Price Tag

With all of the interest in the Nicoya Peninsula, and Nosara in particular, it may come as surprise that real estate is still affordable. Although the market has rebounded from the lows of 2008, there is still a great deal of potential for both expats and investors to explore.

Here are a couple of examples of the kind of opportunities that can currently be found in Nosara:

1-Bedroom Home, Great Investment, Lots of Room to Build Your Dream House on Remaining Land. The home is 1-bedroom, 1.5-bath on over 1 acre of land. It is located about 15 minutes from the beach, 9 minutes from shopping and 6 minutes from the airport. It has water, electricity, and a 1-bedroom guest house with septic system and it can all be purchased for only $137,000.

Diamond Point – 2BR Condo Facing the Pool. 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo beautifully designed and comes furnished so you can start living the lush jungle life immediately. It is located on the ground level with a patio facing one of the nicest pools in Nosara that has a waterfall feature and a shallow area for lounging or for kids to play. Priced at $99,500.

Affordable, Flat Lot in Quiet Area of Playa Pelada. This is for those who want to build their tropical dream home from the ground up. It has recently been reduced in price to $74,999.

Finding your place in a tropical paradise may never be easier. And the even more exciting news is that property values in Nosara are headed nowhere but up. With its incredible natural beauty, first world amenities, family atmosphere, and increased interest from developers, Nosara is poised for even more growth in the future.

The Most Surprising Fact About Nosara

Perhaps the most shocking fact about Nosara is that you have yet to experience it for yourself. Take that first step and see if Nosara may be the tropical paradise that you have been longing for.

Mexico is great for expat families looking for a destination that combines a good work-life balance, along with close proximity to the U.S., and a chance to immerse themselves in a culture that is both new and somewhat familiar. The welcoming environment is further enhanced by the number of long-established expat communities in a wide variety of locations throughout the country.

With a favorable exchange rate, currently about $0.05 U.S. to $1.00 Mexican peso, it is very easy to get more for your dollars south of the border. With the large number of multi-national corporations that maintain operations in Mexico, there is also a growing number of employment opportunities for expats looking to take their careers in a new direction.

mexico is great for expat families

Many Choices for Your Home in Mexico

A major concern for those moving abroad is finding the right place to live. One of the main reasons that Mexico is great for expat families is the wide variety of homes that can be purchased or rented.

Non-residents can own property in their own name throughout much of Mexico; direct ownership in the “restricted zone,” areas within 64 miles of international borders or 32 miles of the coastline, is prohibited except through something called fideicomiso, or a bank trust. Under this system, the bank is the actual title holder with the purchaser being the beneficiary of the trust, with full rights of ownership.

With favorable property prices to match the exchange rate, finding the perfect casa for your family is easier than you might imagine. Whether you are seeking an urban villa, a beachfront hacienda, or a pastoral setting, Mexico has a place for you and your family.

Survey Says: Mexico Is Great for Expat Families!

For expats with children, there are many additional factors to be considered in making a decision to move abroad. In addition to financial and logistical concerns, there’s also education, health care, and other family-friendly services that play an important role.

A recent survey conducted by InterNations, the largest global network of expats, explored 43 life aspects that factor into the decision to move abroad. On one important component, the Family Life Index, Mexico was the only country in the Americas to rank in the top 20. With a great work-life balance and family-friendly attitude, Mexico is a great place for expat families to live and grow.

mexico is great for expat families

Living Day to Day As an Expat Family in Mexico

One of the greatest things about living as an expat family in Mexico is the wide variety of settings in which you can choose to live. No matter what your interests or desired pace of life, there’s something for everyone in Mexico.

Urban Comfort

Many expat families, especially those who move to Mexico for employment, are drawn to the major metropolitan areas like Mexico City, Acapulco, Monterrey, and Guadalajara. The modern amenities, educational choices, and lifestyles in these locales are the ones that most closely mirror major U.S. cities.

Additionally, the number of English speakers and expat-centric communities is also greater. However, these pluses do often come with a higher price tag on things like housing, utilities, food, and other essentials that families need to sustain their lifestyle.

Tourist Central

For those expats fortunate enough to be able to work remotely, beach and tourist locations such as Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Rivera Maya may be desirable. In addition to the wide variety of leisure activities, these destinations have established expat communities that make fitting in much easier. As might be expected, however, the cost of living in these areas is also higher than less developed parts of the country.

Rural and Rustic

Though not for everyone, Mexico is great for expat families seeking to immerse themselves in a new and foreign culture. Smaller towns and villages afford the opportunity for children to be exposed to a lifestyle far different than that which they had back in the U.S.

The lower cost of living can offset the fact that many modern amenities may not be as readily available. Being able to truly live an authentic Mexican lifestyle can provide an unparalleled experience that expat children can carry with them as they grow and develop.

mexico is great for expat families

Things to Consider

While Mexico is great for expat families, there are some important considerations that should be factored in to making the decision to move. Understanding the pluses and minuses involved in such a decision can provide a good assessment of whether moving to Mexico is the right choice for you and your family.

Crime and Safety

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Mexico has certainly made its share of headlines with its problems with various drug cartels and other criminal activities. The good news is that, while certain areas appear to be hotspots for these types of incidents, the majority of the country is largely unaffected.

Prior to moving to any new location, make sure you do your research on its safety. Actually visiting prospective choices (preferably more than once) can help you decide if these are the kind of places you want to raise your family in.

Education and Language

It is important to remember that, in spite of the large number of English speakers present, Spanish is still the principal language in Mexico. Living in the country can provide an excellent opportunity – especially for children – to learn a second language, but it can also make navigating daily life rather difficult.

While there are a number of school options in Mexico, the overall public education system still needs improvement. Rural schools, in particular, seem to lag behind the rest of the country. In a recent study, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked the public system as below average in mathematics, science, and reading.

There are a growing number of international schools that offer alternatives to the public system. Home schooling and parochial schools are other alternatives that may be considered to provide educational options for children.

Immigration Changes

The election of 2016 appears to mark a dramatic shift in immigration laws that will impact both the U.S. and Mexico. As a result, there is a growing uncertainty about how these shifts will impact expats seeking to move to and work in Mexico. Keeping abreast of all current developments and changes in the laws is a necessary step in making the decision to move south of the border.

Is Mexico Right for Your Family?

There are many reasons that Mexico is great for expat families. Its affordability, relaxed pace of life, abundance of leisure-time activities, and close proximity to friends and family “back home” are all positive elements.

There is no better way to begin the discussion about moving than for you and your family to visit places in Mexico that may appeal to you. Seeing firsthand the places you could call home and seeing how your family interacts is the best barometer for measuring the success of such a life-changing decision.

If you’re a new or potential expat, you probably have a lot of questions about the tax implications of your current living and income situation. You may also know that your predicament has been made just that much more complicated by some recent IRS initiatives that affect your reporting requirements.

Understanding your tax burden while you’re living abroad does create an additional perplexing step come tax season. But don’t let it scare you. Just like all the other hurdles you have to overcome when you break free and thrive in the Latin Tropics, this one is manageable.

But, wait, before I proceed…here’s a disclaimer. I’m a fellow expat who has done some research and has personal experience with this topic. I am not, however, an authority on any financial or legal matters. It’s always a good idea to hire an accountant with experience in assisting U.S. citizens living abroad if you have questions about what’s required.

expat income tax

The Long Arm of the Tax Man

Being in the know about income reporting requirements has become even more important with the implementation of two major IRS mandates: FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report). Although passed by Congress in 2010, these two reporting requirements did not go into effect until July 1, 2014, and are the source of both confusion and concern for expats and the foreign financial institutions that they may be dealing with.

While the stated intent of these mandates was to identify and limit tax evaders who sought to conceal assets outside of the country, their impact has been far more profound for the average expat seeking to build a new life a foreign land. Here’s a little bit more about these two requirements.


If you have accounts in foreign bank accounts with balances that total $10,000 or more at any time during the previous year (emphasis added), then you must file an FBAR. It’s submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department annually via FinCEN Form 114.

With the requirements for residency in many Latin Tropic countries including maintaining a minimum amount in a local bank, it is important to keep track of your bank balances throughout the year to avoid potential penalties. The fine is $10,000 for each non-willful violation. If considered willful, penalties can be as high as the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the amount in the account for every year for every account you fail to report.

At this point in time, however, the IRS reserves the right to merely issue a warning. The goal is to compel compliance, not to levy punitive actions.

expat income tax


The FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) requires expats to report all foreign assets to the IRS on Form 8938 as part of their annual 1040 filing. The scope of FATCA is significantly larger than FBAR, as it includes such things as foreign pensions, foreign bank accounts, partnerships, and stock holdings.

These last two items are important as some countries require that a corporation/partnership be established in order to purchase real estate. Consequently such assets would have to be included on the Form 8398.

There are income thresholds that would trigger the FATCA requirements. Single taxpayers who have assets in excess of $300,000 at any point during the year or in excess of $200,000 by year’s end have to file; for married taxpayers, the limits are increased to $600,000 during the year or $400,000 at year’s end.

All sources of foreign income are included under FATCA. Since many foreign companies and financial institutions do not issue tax forms, such as w-2s and 1099s, it is important that you maintain good records of your finances to minimize potential issues when filing with the IRS.

Failure to file Form 8398 will result in a $10,000 penalty. After IRS notification, this amount can increase to $50,000. It’s also important to note that, while FATCA does include bank accounts, filing a Form 8938 does not relieve you of your need to file a FinCEN Form 114. Both forms are required, and the penalties are separate for each violation.

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide from the IRS

With over 50 countries now participating in FATCA, expats can expect increased scrutiny from the IRS on any foreign investments, employment, or property ownership. Although there has been continued criticism of these programs, more countries can be expected to sign on as participants.

Being prepared before making your move to the tropics is the best way to ensure that you will not run afoul of these tax situations. Doing your research, understanding your financial profile, and keeping solid records are important steps to take before setting foot in your new country.

Benjamin Franklin said it best when he pointed out that taxes were one of only two things of which we could be certain. You may not be able to avoid taxes, but with adequate preparation you can certainly limit the severity of the headache they cause. Don’t let your uncertainties prevent you from realizing your dream of living abroad.

I can’t remember a time when the U.S. political scene was in such a state of turmoil. These days you can’t talk politics on social media (or even with family over a holiday meal) without somebody getting worked up and going into an all-out rant.

During election season, there were plenty of people on both sides threatening that they were going to “leave the country if [fill in the blank] gets elected.” And apparently some thought pretty seriously about it, as Google reports that searches for the phrase “move to Canada” hit an all-time high in the days following Super Tuesday.

Well. It’s all over. The chips have fallen. Donald J. Trump has officially been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. So now the question becomes…who’s really going?

leave the country Trump

How many people are actually leaving the U.S.?

Sure, they threaten. It happens every time there’s an election. But does anyone actually even follow through on their threat to expatriate merely because they’re unhappy about a change in the presidential administration?

The answer? Well, no one really knows.

That’s because, as concerned as the U.S. is with how many people are coming into the country, they’re actually surprisingly lax on tracking how many are leaving. In fact, among developed countries, the U.S. is almost the only one that doesn’t collect any data on its emigrants.

That’s right. The U.S. government has absolutely no idea how many of its citizens are living abroad. If you ask the State Department, they’ll tell you it’s somewhere between 3 million and 8 million. (Really narrows it down, right?)

But other sources indicate there are closer to 9 million non-military U.S. citizens living abroad. That’s more than double the 4 million estimated in 1999, and it’s increasing every year, as is the number of U.S. citizens renouncing their citizenship.

Where are they going?

The next question is, of the estimated 3 million U.S. citizens who could potentially become expats this year, to which countries are they emigrating?

What little data that does exist suggests that most U.S. expats move to locations physically close to the U.S., those whose residents speak English, countries that are political allies, and those that have a large number of immigrants to the U.S.

Not surprisingly, the largest number of U.S. expats live in Mexico, with some estimates putting that number as high as 1 million people. The countries in the Latin Tropics also rank high on the list. In fact, there’s practically no country outside of the Caribbean or American possessions where more than 1% of the population is U.S. citizens.

leave the country Trump

Why are they leaving?

Sure, there are people who actually do leave the U.S. based on nothing more than election results. A ton of folks moved down to the tropics after Obama was elected. They bought houses right next to people who left because they hated Bush, and guess what happened. They all got along swimmingly.

It’s not because the political systems in the Latin Tropics are any better. In fact, in many ways they’re way worse. Newly installed political leaders come in and clean house, all the way from cabinet leaders down to the guy who’d been reviewing your building permit request for a month already.

The entire government shuts down for weeks. When things do get up and running, it’s with all new people who have no idea what the hell’s going on. It’s a nightmare! Not to mention, corruption is rampant.

The biggest difference is that, while there’s plenty of political turmoil in the tropics, not much of it affects your average expat. Even the laws that do exist (like some really ridiculous traffic regulations) often aren’t enforced, because there simply aren’t enough resources available.

If not politics, then what?

That being said, politics is still very low on the list of reasons people move away from the U.S. So what are the top draws that entice so many U.S. citizens into living abroad?

Business Opportunities

This one dates back as far as the 19th century, when the increase of whalers and clipper ships led Americans to travel all across the globe for commercial reasons. Treaties with China, Japan, and Korea paved the way for North American traders to settle in those countries.

After the Cold War, the countries of Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia represented new opportunities for U.S. business owners. With the U.S. dominating the world economy, there was also an increasing need for English as a Second Language (ESL) education in these emerging markets.  

Technology and globalization have continued to fuel overseas emigration. Then the economic crisis of 2008 led even more U.S. citizens to look outside the borders for job opportunities or more affordable retirement. Overseas jobs have also become increasingly popular among new graduates facing a tough job market after college.


You can thank Cecil Rhodes for beginning this phenomenon when he created the Rhodes Scholarship in 1902 to foster cooperation between the U.S., Germany, and the British Empire by allowing students to study abroad. The trend caught on as other similar initiatives, like the Fulbright Program, were created to allow students to participate in cultural exchanges.

Today the number of college students studying abroad continues to increase. Not to mention, more and more students are realizing that experiencing life in another part of the world and learning to adapt is a valuable part of preparing to live and work in an increasingly global society. As a result, many are choosing to take a gap year and spend time overseas before resuming their studies.

leave the country Trump

Roderick Eime

Quality of Life

But the number one reason that most expats I meet choose to leave the U.S. is simply because of a desire to experience something new and to immerse themselves in another culture. For this trend you can thank the “Lost Generation” expats in Paris: Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein, to name a few.

Paris was the place to be in the 1920s. So that, as a result, was where they were. Other European cities like Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin, and Prague also grew in popularity among North Americans. Today, an increasing number of expats are choosing the Latin Tropics as their destination abroad, where they can enjoy a more laid-back lifestyle, often at a fraction of the cost.

U.S. citizens are moving all over the globe for no other reason than the fact that they’ve identified a place (or perhaps many places) that offer something they want to experience. It could be culture. It could be a slower pace of life. It could be a value system that more closely aligns with their priorities.

Whatever it is, they’re finding it elsewhere. And that trend is going to continue in the years to come. It doesn’t matter who’s sitting in the Oval Office.

What’s your motivation for setting your sights overseas?

The investment and securities industry can be a complicated thing for most people to understand. As a result, many depend on the services of a licensed broker or financial advisor to help them navigate the many options available for building wealth and preparing for retirement.

And, while most of these individuals are very knowledgeable and well-meaning professionals, they’re not necessarily the only (or even the best) solution for determining how to invest your dollars. But you won’t hear that from them.

Of course, your broker has your best interest at heart. But he also has some interests and limitations of his own. Ones he’s not likely to disclose to you. Here are five statements that, while true, probably won’t ever come up in your quarterly review.

international real estate

1. “I’m a salesman, not a stock analyst.”

Your adviser probably sounds like he’s up-to-the-minute on market trends and the hottest new investment products. He may also provide colorful graphs and charts and use lots of financial jargon. But the fact is that selling investment products has no education or experience requirement. Candidates just have to pass a test, albeit a relatively difficult one.

That’s because, at the end of the day, the role of a financial advisor is essentially a sales job. The company your broker works for has experts who research individual stocks, mutual funds, and other financial tools. Any insights he offers to you he’s learned from reading his corporate literature, not analyzing the annual report of every company in the S&P 500.

2. “I have ulterior motives.”

Brokers are sometimes offered extra incentives for selling certain mutual funds or products. So, while he would never intentionally recommend something that’s a BAD investment, he could have his own selfish reason for suggesting one investment vehicle over another.

Not to mention, he may also have a quota to meet. Even if your portfolio is performing just fine, he could suggest that you buy into a different fund or company, since he only gets paid when you make a transaction.

These practices do happen, but that doesn’t mean they’re true of every broker or firm. It might be worth looking into how your advisor gets compensated.

international real estate

3. “I’m biased towards domestic investments.”

Most advisors suggest putting anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of your portfolio in international investments. This recommendation reflects something that’s know as “home country bias.” People tend to assume that their home markets are less volatile and more likely to earn higher returns, when that isn’t necessarily the case.

While it’s true that international markets do fluctuate, they’re no less stable overall than the U.S. market. In fact, looking over a long range of time, the results have actually been quite similar.

Furthermore, while the U.S. once made up over half of the global market, that’s no longer true. So, if you want a portfolio that more closely resembles the global ratio, you’d end up with closer to 50% in foreign investments, leaving you better poised to shoulder both the political and economic risks.

4. “You should be thinking outside the box.”

Your broker has probably talked to you about the importance of diversifying your portfolio. He may have stressed the importance of having a mix of large- and small-cap or domestic and foreign funds.

He’s probably touched on any other business or personal property that factors into your net worth, such as your home. But outside of that, he’s probably never mentioned any product that he doesn’t offer.

When it comes to investing, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are only part of the picture. You shouldn’t overlook the myriad of other options out there, such as real estate. These non-traditional ventures are often very profitable options, but they’re probably not on your advisor’s radar. Not even close.

international real estate

5. “Your best investment option may be one I could never sell you.”

Not only will your advisor probably not mention any non-traditional investments, he might not even be able to help you with any that you suggest on your own. International real estate is a good example.

Buying land or a home overseas can be a fantastic investment, particularly if you’re able to hold on to it long-term. There are a number of areas in the Latin Tropics where real estate is getting ready to take off, due to infrastructure improvements or other development nearby. Plus there are many tax advantages to buying foreign real estate.

The problem is that your broker’s firm probably won’t allow him to assist you with the purchase. That’s not because it’s a bad or risky investment. It’s merely because it’s beyond their capacity. They simply don’t have the time or resources to research these kinds of investments for every client. So they’ll have to send you elsewhere.

However, for those who want to include international real estate in their financial portfolio, there are plenty of options available. It’s just a matter of finding a custodian who deals with these types of transactions and is better equipped to work with a more informed, entrepreneurial client.

Bottom line…there’s no need to fire your broker just yet. When you make money, he makes money. So, for personal and professional reasons, he wants to see you build as much wealth as possible. But you should definitely go into your next quarterly review with a more open and inquisitive mind.

He knows a lot of ways to get you a great return on investment. But only you can decide what’s truly the best strategy for your future.

If you’ve settled on the place you plan to live in retirement and haven’t yet made an offer on your dream home, then what are you waiting for? Not only does owning a home in the tropics mean that you have a place to stay whenever you come down to visit, it’s also a great retirement planning strategy.

Buying a home that can also serve as a rental property when you’re not using it, is a great way to help the home pay for itself. It may even be another way to generate income to help you live even more comfortably in retirement.

But while owning and renting out a home in another country may seem like quite a challenge, it’s one that can be easily managed. Literally, in this case.

When it comes to rentals in the tropics, the services of a qualified rental manager or management company can be priceless. From making sure your property stays booked to getting repairs made in a timely manner, here’s how to make sure your rental manager will make, not break, your experience of owning a rental property in the tropics.

tropical rental home

Find the person before the property

Rental managers know better than anyone else what are the most sought-after locations for rentals in the cities where they operate. They also know which types of properties rent the best and what kind of renters you can expect to attract.

As such, they can be just as helpful in finding you the right property as they will be once it’s ready to rent. So, if you plan to buy a property to rent, your rental manager might be a good person to have on your home buying team.

Choose wisely

Just as the right rental manager can be the key to your property’s success, hiring the wrong one can be an absolute disaster. So, how do you know which management company to choose?

You can start by asking for recommendations if you know any other expats or property owners in the area. Try consulting expat forums focused on your town. Find out who’s happy with their manager and who isn’t.

Also, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a basic online search. But don’t just type “rental managers in Nosara, Costa Rica.” Search the way your target audience would.

For example, if you’re wanting to market your Panama City condo to local business professionals who might stay more long-term, try searching “departamentos amoblados Panama City.” The top listings you see for furnished apartments are the same ones your prospective tenants will be seeing as well.

That’s not to say you should hire the first company that comes up in a Google search. That’s just a place to start. It’s absolutely essential to research and thoroughly vet any potential candidates, and even interview a few, before making such an important decision.

tropical rental home

Iron out the details

Once you’ve found a rental manager you’re comfortable working with, the next step is to agree on their duties for managing the property, as well as how they’ll be paid for their services. So, before you sign any contracts, make sure every detail has been covered.

At the very least, your rental manager will be responsible for marketing the property, screening potential renters, handling check-ins and check-outs, collecting rent and deposits, scheduling cleanings, and inventorying contents for damaged or missing items. But they may be able to do more.

Find out if they’re willing to enforce any restrictions you want to impose (e.g. no pets or smoking). If they handle property management, they may also be able to handle items such as overseeing property maintenance, paying utility bills, or even taking care of the taxes on the property.

Don’t let out of sight be out of mind

Even though a qualified rental manager can be more than capable of effectively managing your rental property, don’t blindly assume that no news is good news. Check in regularly with your management company to make sure things are running smoothly.

You can request that they submit monthly statements showing any income and expenses for your property. They should also be able to produce receipts for any maintenance performed, items replaced, or bills or taxes paid.

It’s also a good idea to come down as often as possible to check things out for yourself. Pictures and statements are great. But there’s no substitute for seeing the state of things with your own eyes. Plan to meet with your rental manager to speak personally about how things are going and discuss any changes that need to be made.

Not only are frequent visits a great way to keep things in tip-top shape. They’re also a good excuse to take a vacation and start building up your anticipation for retirement, in your tropical dream home that’s now paying for itself.

Quick! What are the first five adjectives that come to mind when I tell you to think about the Latin Tropics?

All done? What were they? I’m guessing most of them were probably pretty positive. Words like “breathtaking,” “eco-diverse,” and “relaxing.” And those all describe the region quite well.

But there’s a small chance there may have also been a few negative attributes that popped into your head. Things like “unfamiliar,” “expensive,” or “muggy.” And those can certainly be valid descriptions of certain parts of the area as well. However, many of them might not be quite as prevalent (or even accurate) as you might think.

Let’s take a minute to debunk some commonly held misconceptions about living in the Latin Tropics. This should help you banish those negative terms from your vocabulary in favor of some more positive impressions about this incredible region.


1. The climate is unbearably hot and humid.

A commonly held misconception about the Latin Tropics is that it’s unbearably hot and humid everywhere you go. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Beating the heat in the Latin Tropics is as simple as changing your altitude.

While it’s true that most coastal cities can get pretty warm, there are plenty of fantastic places to live in the inland mountains and valleys that are so mild that most homes don’t even require air conditioning. All you need to do is open a window and let in the tropical breeze.

2. Everything is really expensive.

If your only experience in the Latin Tropics was at a fancy resort or in a highly developed city that’s popular with expats and tourists, it’s easy to think why you might hold this belief. But when you live like a local, it’s actually a very affordable place to call home.

In fact, the low cost of living is a factor that attracts many people, retirees in particular, to the region in the first place. Housing and utilities are inexpensive. Fresh produce is dirt cheap. You can even splurge on the services of a domestic helper, like a maid or gardener, for a fraction of what you’d pay for the same services in the U.S.

3. I can’t own real estate in the Latin Tropics.

This is another fact that many would-be expats incorrectly assume. In most countries in Latin America, foreign buyers have the same rights as citizens. They can buy property outright and, in some cases, even obtain financing.

There are some exceptions, though, like beachfront property and land within a certain distance from national borders. If you decide to buy, you’ll also need to be aware of property laws governing issues like “squatters” and other things that aren’t a concern in the U.S.


4. I need to learn Spanish before I can move there.

While it’s a good idea to know at least a few key phrases before beginning your expat journey, being fluent in Spanish is hardly a requirement. Most cities that are popular with expats and tourists are very friendly to English speakers. You won’t have a hard time getting your questions answered.

Once you’re settled in, you can start focusing on broadening your vocabulary. There are also plenty of language schools, tutors, etc. who can help you learn the lingo after you arrive. Not to mention, there’s no better way to learn than being immersed in the culture day in and day out.

5. The Latin Tropics are “disconnected” from the rest of the world.

Yeah, I get it. Quaint fishing villages and ethereal cloud forests don’t exactly scream “high-speed connectivity,” but you might be surprised by how far this region has come in recent years when it comes to things like Internet access and cellular coverage.

Many countries have seen government initiatives targeted at improving infrastructure and Internet connectivity. Most mid- to large-sized cities have cafes and other businesses that boast free wi-fi. And with all the technology available these days, it’s never been easier to keep in touch.

6. Locals don’t care for North Americans.

This could be the most ludicrous assumption that North Americans make about the people of the Latin Tropics. They’re an incredibly welcoming culture, eager to make new friends and share stories.

As long as you’re open to new people and ideas, you’ll fit right in with the locals in the Latin Tropics. Come across as an arrogant gringo, on the other hand, and they likely won’t give you the time of day.

7. It’s not safe there.

Unfortunately, the Latin Tropics has earned itself a bit of a reputation as a haven for crime and corruption. The reality, though, is that it’s cleaned itself up quite well and today is no less safe than your average North American city.

What crime that does exist is mostly drug- or gang-related and generally only affects those involved in those activities. The rest is mostly minor offenses like petty theft. In general, just stay away from the bad parts of town after dark, lock your doors, and don’t leave valuables lying around to tempt would-be thieves.


8. The Latin Tropics are not open for business.

Many people steer clear of moving to the Latin tropics because they’re afraid they couldn’t get a viable business up and running in order to sustain their livelihood. This is yet another false assumption. For the entrepreneurial expat, there are plenty of options for making money.

As more and more people move to the region from all over the globe, there’s a growing need for more businesses catering to expats and tourists. Everything from boutique hotels to dry cleaners. Investing in real estate is another popular option, as the savvy buyer can often score a great deal on land or homes.

Whether you’re worried about making ends meet, swatting at mosquitoes, or learning how to order a sandwich the way you want it, there’s no reason to let those fears or misconceptions keep you from realizing your dream of living in the Latin Tropics.

Plan a trip down to check things out for yourself. Get to know some locals. Have them show you where they buy their groceries. Ask them where it is and isn’t safe to go at night. Then pop into an Internet cafe to email your family and friends back home. Tell them to start getting excited about coming to visit you in your new home.