"The legal situation regarding land ownership is so different from the US, and so much more ambiguous, that buyers can end up feeling that they have been cheated even when the intermediary is honest."-- an American who has lived in San Jose for over a decade.
I added this blurb because so many folks write me letters asking if they should settle down in Costa Rica. Frankly, the thought never occurred to me during my 17 day holiday. New Zealand and Northern Italy are probably the only places to which I've personally considered exporting myself. That's not because I found Costa Rica unpleasant. It is just that I'm unproductive enough in a country where I speak the language fluently and understand most of the rules; I don't like the idea of spending several years relearning everyday skills unless the payoff is enormous (e.g., the hills of Tuscany).
Before you rush off to the lush hills of the Central Valley, you might want to read about my evening with Alex Shaw and also Jack Ewing's words of wisdom.
Of course, when pondering a real estate transaction in any part of the world, it is wise to remember the eternal question: Why does New York have so much garbage and Los Angeles so many real estate agents?
Because New York had first choice.