Is Nosara, Costa Rica Real Estate Primed for Another Boom?
Located on the Nicoya Peninsula on the country’s Pacific Coast, Nosara, Costa Rica began as an agricultural community with a deforestation problem. The town caught the eye of a developer with a plan to leverage the area’s natural beauty and turn a piece of land into a community.
After over 40 years and several conservation and preservation initiatives (yet no paved roads), Nosara, Costa Rica real estate is highly coveted by investors, would-be expats, and their families.
Nosara is different in many ways than most other beach towns in Latin America, and even Costa Rica. Its natural beauty has made it a popular tropical destination. Yet it maintains a slightly bohemian, small-town feel.
Unlike most coastal towns, its beaches aren’t dotted with luxury high-rise condos and all-inclusive resorts, as much of the area consists of a protected wildlife refuge. However, it still has the amenities you’d expect, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, medical clinics, banks, and a police station. Construction is also constantly ongoing on new housing and retail developments.
The Humble Beginnings of Nosara, Costa Rica Real Estate
For centuries, the area around present-day Nosara was used primarily for grazing cattle. As a result, much of the area had been deforested, greatly diminishing its beauty.
Finally, in the 1970’s, developer Alan Hutchinson flew over the peninsula in a small plane and was taken by the beauty of the Nosara River and the surrounding mountains. He purchased the land from a local and started building what came to be known as “The American Project.”
With labor from the nearby pueblo and supplies that were brought in by boat, the first few houses were constructed at Playa Pelada. The going was slow, with goods being brought in from San Jose or even the U.S. Fresh vegetables came once a week, and the only electricity came from generators that ran a few hours each day.
Sure it’s a great story. But what’s even more important about the way that the Nosara project began is that there was a master plan devised by its developers, something that was unheard of back then and still isn’t even that common today.
As a result of having a plan, Nosara has been able to avoid the pitfalls of amateur development. Along with community effort Nosara has been able to avoid zoning issues that are common in most coastal towns. Its real estate has benefited greatly from these factors making it a perfect place to invest in real estate with a bright future.
In Nosara, you may not drive on a paved road, but you will see million dollar homes. Thanks to a development plan that included thousands of acres you just don’t see beautiful hotels next to chicken coops, and it can’t be underestimated how valuable that makes the land today. And don’t forget the beach. Thanks to the town’s development plan, it’s as pristine as it ever was with no development visible on the coastline. Which is why Travel and Leisure and The New York Times love it and why it is home to people who could afford to live anywhere, but they choose an isolated stretch of coast called Nosara.
Nosara, Costa Rica Today
The intentional directives of those earliest developers definitely paid off. Today those who have the privilege of owning property in Nosara enjoy one of the greatest lifestyles in all of Costa Rica, if not the entirety of Central America. The Nosara Civil Association, among a number of other groups, have launched initiatives that contribute to the preservation of the town and the enhancement of its residents’ quality of life.
Areas that were cleared for cattle now boast thick, rich forests, thanks to the reforestation component of the master plan. Nosara has the cleanest water table in Costa Rica with no dumping of gray or black water into its streams or beaches (an unfortunately common practice in Costa Rica, where waste management and other basic services are often lacking). Regular trash collection, recycling programs, and sustainability initiatives have also contributed immensely to the area’s cleanup and beautification.
Residents also enjoy an adequate water system, dependable electricity (for Costa Rica), decent roads and bridges, phone and wi-fi service, medical facilities, and a number of other amenities. The bargains scored by those earliest settlers are no longer to be found, but neither are the difficulties those first residents faced.
Nosara is comprised of four main communities, each of which is named after its respective beach: Playa Nosara, Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada, and Playa Ostional. These areas are the most populated, particularly with expats. They, along with the small area of Esparanza de Nosara, are also home to most of the hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions.
Nosara Enjoys One of Central America’s Healthiest Lifestyles
A major selling point of Nosara, Costa Rica real estate is the active, healthy lifestyle the area offers. In keeping with its residents’ aim to protect the natural environment, most are equally committed to maximizing their own health and wellness. As a result, Nosara offers a number of options for those who want to enjoy optimum nutrition and fitness.
Surfing – Nosara is internationally known for some of the best surfing in Central America. It enjoys consistent waves that allow for all-day enjoyment. There are also breaks that are perfect for every skill level, from beginners to experts. A number of surfing schools in the area offer lessons for beginning surfers of all ages.
Yoga – Nosara is one of the most popular places in the country to practice yoga, and there are classes, studios, and teacher certifications available on every corner. Yoga, with its focus on balance and awareness, is also a great complement to surfing and helps to relieve the tension that results from paddling.
Other Activities – Those aren’t the only active hobbies that Nosara residents engage in. Others include boxing, hiking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Football (soccer) and tennis are also popular, with access to fields and courts available.
Health Food – Healthy and nutritious food options are available throughout Nosara, from raw food cafes to smoothie stands to organic markets and grocers. You can find health drinks, local dairy products, organic produce, bulk nuts and spices, and even artisan foods like coconut and cacao products. Fresh fish is widely available, and there’s even a program that allows for you to sign up online for deliveries of fresh, organic goodies.
Green Initiatives – From recycling programs to sustainable building practices, there are a number of efforts in place aimed at keeping Nosara green. Recent programs include campaigns to reduce styrofoam use, beach cleanups, and tree plantings.
Nature – There’s much evidence to support the fact that merely being in nature is enough to improve one’s health and wellbeing. And there’s plenty of it to behold in Nosara. From gathering with locals on the beach at sunset to watching turtles nesting in their natural habitat, the area is brimming with wildlife just begging to be observed.
Nosara Is Also an Ideal Place to Raise a Family
Much of the buying pool for properties in today’s Nosara, Costa Rica real estate market consists of young families who are looking for a place to give their children the valuable experience of living abroad. And Nosara is one of the rare places in Central America where you can actually raise a family. As a result, you’ll see families shopping together at the market, eating in a cafe, or just hanging out at the beach, making it an easy place to meet other expat families.
Nosara also feels very North American, with a large number of English speakers (including locals), so it’s a natural choice if you’re looking for a place that’s an easy transition from the North American culture (although there’s still plenty of authentic culture to enjoy in Nosara).
Another huge advantage to raising kids in Nosara is the presence of two bilingual schools, the Del Mar Academy and the HSB Academy. Both have small class sizes and a diverse curriculum, allowing children to learn about the many cultures represented in their classroom. Del Mar Academy also offers a summer program for those who wish to try out the area for a short time.
In addition to their formal education, there are many other opportunities for expat children. Examples include surfing, dancing, boxing, gymnastics, and yoga. Not to mention all the ways your children can connect with nature. Rather than having to go to a zoo or wildlife preserve to see exotic animals, it’s perfectly common to see howler monkeys, lizards, and exotic birds just walking home from the beach.
Another tremendous benefit of Nosara is that it’s safe. Unlike many other beach towns in Costa Rica, it has little drug culture and no real party scene. As a result, it remains free of most shady individuals and maintains a low crime rate. Residents of the small community also do a great job looking out for one another.
What’s important about these characteristics is that they practically guarantee Nosara’s consistent growth as an established town with amenities and services to meet the needs of real families. It isn’t just some latest and greatest destination that’s heavily reliant on its tourism industry and destined to fail once another up-and-coming spot moves into the lead.
Instead it’s a rare find, especially among beach towns. Few other options in the Central American real estate market offer safe, family-friendly beach living, complete with farmers markets, desirable schools, and everything else you need to raise a family.
Is Nosara Primed for Another Real Estate Boom?
While it’s been growing steadily in recent years, there are some who suspect the Nosara, Costa Rica real estate market could be about to experience its largest growth spurt since 2006. And a visit to the town these days would quickly confirm those suspicions.
There are many new faces on the street, new homes and businesses going up at record speeds, and many other changes underway. Likely many are beginning to realize the value of living in a small, beach community as opposed to a large, fast-paced city (whether elsewhere in Central America or back in their home countries).
However, there’s no reason to worry that development in the area might get out of control. Due to the federally protected zone being established along the beach, no structures can ever destroy the natural beauty of Nosara’s coastline. This of course is affecting the price of land values as there is a limited supply. Likewise, height restrictions in the areas that are available for development also help to prevent the buildings from dominating the surrounding natural environment.
Nosara, Costa Rica Market Data and Trends
The lifestyle available in Nosara is without a doubt a critical driver of the real estate market. You don’t see many real estate offices that don’t have vacation rentals as an offered service. This is because vacation renters end up buying lots of real estate, which is a testament to the attractive lifestyle offered in the area.
There are a few things that we’ve seen happening in Nosara’s real estate market over the past few years. For starters, the quality of the construction that buyers are seeking has changed considerably. Today’s buyers aren’t looking for quaint little shacks with thatched roofs, prices for land are far too high to make this idea work. People want high turnkey properties with all the conveniences you would expect in an emerging tourist mecca, a trend that’s also being echoed by the quality of new businesses that are being built or renovated.
Another trend is that property appreciation rates exceeded expectations in 2013, particularly on land prices which were up as much as 50% in some cases. This is a result of dwindling supply, in a 40-year old project there isn’t much that is new and most people at this point don’t want to drive very far to get to town.
As we mentioned previously, one of the easiest themes to notice right now in Nosara is the incredible amount of construction that’s underway. With hardly enough supply to meet the increasing demand (and with sophisticated buyers who know exactly what they want and are willing to wait for it to be built) there is more construction going on in Nosara than ever before. You can’t drive anywhere without seeing something getting built, from houses, to hotels, to tennis courts, the town is changing right before our eyes.
Also, with limited space in the central areas (due in part to the zoning ordinances we referenced), many of these new homes are being built on the outskirts of town or in the surrounding mountains. In those areas, lot sizes are much larger. They offer more privacy and tranquility, as well as a somewhat cooler climate and some killer views. Its expected that the higher prices in town or more space will push buyers into nearby areas.
Why Your Investment Is Safe in Nosara
With so much to love in Nosara, it should be no surprise that it isn’t one of the cheapest places to live. Quite the contrary. It’s one of the pricier options in Costa Rica and in Central America in general. But the desire to live there is really strong and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Even if you don’t want to live there a vacation rental can deliver a healthy return on investment up to 10% to 20% .
So, while properties in Nosara may not have the emerging upside of those in some lesser-known areas, it’s clear that its real estate market continues to go nowhere but up. If you want proof, you must only look at the expanding schools, new businesses, and infrastructure improvements, such as airport renovations and road pavings (finally!).
These advancements, combined with the slower pace of life and natural harmony, are what make Nosara the best of both worlds. And that trend isn’t one that’s changing any time soon.
Map of Nosara, Costa Rica
Nosara Fast Facts
- Population: About 1,700
- Typical temperature:Mid 80’s
- Nearest airport with U.S. flights: Liberia
- Nearest U.S. consulate: San Jose
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