Los Sueños’ residential communities are spread across green hillsides cascading into the Pacific Ocean and separated by landscaped lawns and gardens maintained by a small army of gardeners. A great many of its homes come with scenic views of vast expanses of water and glorious sunsets dipping behind the waves. Clearly, these are features that attract many prospective buyers.
Hi-rise Luxury on the Beach
Yet, as Head readily concedes, not everyone wants their spectacular views at the expense of living on such a sprawling tract of land. Others prefer to gaze across the ocean from the comfort of a balcony in a high-rise building perched just steps from the beach and in walking distance to supermarkets, shops and restaurants.
The town of Jaco has just such a property, Vista Las Palmas, the tallest condominium building on the Costa Rican mainland. Its private pool with Jacuzzi whirlpool runs alongside a wide beach whose sand has been accurately described as the color of cinnamon. Among the 51 residences occupying the 16 stories are 10 “tower homes” with wrap-around balconies overlooking both the ocean and virgin rainforest. Yet the property is but a few short blocks from Jaco’s main drag, which boasts a variety of American chain restaurants as well as local eateries.
It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Vista Las Palmas has sold out as well. According to Head, however, at any given time there may be up to a dozen units for sale. Presently, there are 2- and 3-bedroom condos at prices between $575,000 and $750,000.
Owning Property in Manuel Antonio
While Jaco is a classic beach resort town, Manuel Antonio has a completely different vibe. Jaco is known for its wide swathes of easily accessible beach; Manuel Antonio, on the other hand, has one giant public beach lined with restaurants and bars, then a sprinkling of tiny ones tucked away in half-hidden coves. Its charm lies in jungle-like rainforest that tumbles straight into the sea, and the end-of the-world feel that comes when the main road simply vanishes at the entrance to a national park.
In recent years, a number of upscale boutique hotels have sprung up in Manuel Antonio, exposing guests to a lifestyle that often leads to vacationers seeking to own a bit of this remote paradise. In fact, it was observing this phenomenon in action that motivated 2 Costa Rica?s Cutter to switch careers: from a job as the general manager of a hotel to the owner of a real estate agency.
Cutter recommends three particular luxury projects to clients looking to buy in Manuel Antonio. Each operates also as a resort, as most homeowners participate in the vacation rental programs managed by the developers. According to Cutter, it is possible for an owner to realize up to $25,000 annually from vacation rentals.
Los Altos is a medium-rise condominium complex with onsite spa and secluded beach. “Prices here have come down significantly,” Cutter notes. “Units that originally sold from $695,000 to $1,750,000 (for the penthouses) are now listed between $495,000 and $850,000.”
A very similar situation prevails at Pacifico Colonial, whose condominiums are more European-accented. “Original pricing here ranged from $595,000 to $1.5 million,” Cutter says. “Current pricing starts at $495,000 and runs to $1,295,000.”
Tulemar is slightly different, as this development comprises individual homesites, many featuring villas with unique (even award-winning) designs. It also has more options, from lots (land only) starting at $285,000 to a bungalow condo for $345,000; spacious villas run the gamut from $525,000 to nearly $2.4 million.
With prices like these, it is advisable to “try before you buy,” counsels Michael Brown of Mead Brown Villas, the vacation rental firm named Costa Rica?s “villa rental specialist” by Condé Nast Traveler two years in a row. Mead Brown, headquartered not far from Los Sueños, represents many of the finest vacation rental properties all along the Central Pacific coast.
“It only makes sense to ‘test drive’ the area first, before deciding to come down here to live,” says Brown, who relocated to Costa Rica with his business partner Mark Mead from the United States. “We provide fully serviced condos and villas to vacationers and then can guide them to the best realtors to meet their needs.”
Text and photo by Buzzy Gordon.