When looking to purchase real estate anywhere in the world we want to know a few things about the property in question. What is the neighborhood like? Are there zoning restrictions that would prohibit my building and use plans? is water and electrical power readily available? Do I own the land and buildings freely or are there weird government or condo restrictions in place that in all practically mean I am merely a renter? How much does the property cost per square meter (or square foot if you live in the stone age)?

I would like to address the square foot question here.

When purchasing a small plot of land, big enough for a house garage and small yard, the cost of the land is going to be relatively high because the costs includes all kinds of taxes, service fees, survey and paper work costs that are the same if you have a small plot or large farm. Lets say you want to buy a 1000 meter lot (that’s a 1/4 acre for you old timers). You are probably going to be paying between $10 and $50 / meter depending on location and quality. If you want to buy say 10,000 meters (a full hectare or 2.47 acres) would you consider paying the same price per meter for that additional land that will be used for trees, grazing, and privacy? Hell no! yet that’s what a lot of the Costa Rican farmers think when they price their land for sale to the gingos. And that’s why its very important to understand this price per meter cost structure here.

While desirable real estate in costa rica costs in the hundreds of dollars per square meter, land for grazing cattle certainly does not. Why should a farmer think he can expect to sell his pasture land for the same price as ocean front? Because they are stuck on the meter price and not the overall consideration to which one prices real estate world wide.

I have a neighbor who has a single hectare of pasture land that has a hole in the middle thru which runs a stream. There is zero development on this property and she rents it to a farmer for $10 / month for grazing. She has consistently asked top dollar for this land thinking that it has value to a stupid gringo who has tons of money to throw away. There is no view. Electrical power and water are touching the property edge but there is no phone line. The asking price is $10/meter but there are no buyers and never will be.

If she sincerely wanted to sell this land, and stopped acting like a selfish moron, she could ask say $20 / meter for 1000 meters and $0.50 / meter for the rest. Instead of $100,000 dollars for a tiny bit of pasture, we now have a reasonable asking price of 24,500 for a building lot and additional land for farming and animals.

Perhaps she thinks that because some of her neighbors are gringos who have developed their land into beautiful home and park sites that she can benefit from their hard work. She has never put a dime into her dilapidated property, never helped with the road repairs, never participated in community actions and yet she wants to reap the rewards of the hard work of others. Personally I am glad she is asking an outrageous price for her property. For one nobody will be stupid enough to buy it thus keeping me from having a neighbor there and two if someone does buy it I hope they have a friend to buy my property too!