There are dozens of gated communities in Guanacaste, each with its own unique character, amenities, community feel, and benefits. The wonderful challenge is in finding the right one for you.
At its heart, gated community living is a lifestyle decision – and one that has become incredibly popular in Costa Rica over the last decade. From digital nomads and families to retirees and investors, there’s a dream that inspired every new neighbor you’ll meet.
So, our first suggestion: What do you dream for your life in Costa Rica? What lifestyle do you hope to lead? And what do you seek from your community?
From there, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and narrow down your options. But before you do, have a look at our gated community guide to learn more about gated community types and amenities, community benefits and HOA fees, and all those other factors that will influence your final decision.
Browsing for your future home in Costa Rica can be both exciting and a bit overwhelming: Even when you’ve already narrowed down your search to gated communities in Guanacaste, there are still dozens of options from which to choose! Here, we spotlight a few of the region’s perpetual favorites:
Located just south of Tamarindo, this 4,500-acre resort community is one of the most established, exclusive, and amenity-rich gated communities in Guanacaste: Occupying coastline that stretches from Playa Langosta into Playa Avellanas and Playa Mansita, Hacienda Pinilla offers Blue-Flag beaches, a par-72 championship golf course, tennis courts, hiking and mountain biking trails, a luxury beach club, and more.
Occupying 2,300 acres of rolling landscapes and sun-drenched beachfront, Reserva Conchal is located 20 minutes north of Tamarindo. Known for its pristine white-sand and pink-hued beaches, natural beauty, and championship golf course, this resort community promises extraordinary amenities and innovative, eco-friendly design in distinctive neighborhoods.
When it comes to gated communities in Guanacaste, car-free Las Catalinas – the country’s only all-pedestrian community! – is one of the most unique. Masterfully planned, it’s home to lifestyle amenities (several pools, restaurants, walking paths, and more) and centered around a true walkable village; at Las Catalinas, all roads lead to Beach Town! All this, 12 miles to Playas del Coco and under 20 miles to Tamarindo.
Home to spectacular views, prestige, and one of the coast’s most sought-after locations – on a privileged hilltop overlooking Pacific Ocean views and the new Flamingo Marina – 750-acre Mar Vista is an upscale lifestyle community that embodies sustainable luxury living. In addition to some of the best views in Guanacaste, Mar Vista offers a suite of luxury amenities and one of the country’s top private schools, located onsite.
Waldorf Astoria Residences
One of the newest options for gated communities in Guanacaste, the Waldorf Astoria Residences sit perched atop dramatic hillsides on the Cacique Peninsula, just 5 minutes to Playa Hermosa. Here, barefoot luxury awaits at this resort community recognized for its lifestyle of leisure, which extends to just a handful of residences, an active outdoor lifestyle, and wellness amenities.
Benefits of Gated Communities
There are myriad benefits to gated communities in Guanacaste, ranging from the obvious (24-hour gated security) to the less obvious (a built-in sense of place). Your needs, lifestyle, and wants will determine your perspective on which matter most to you, but here are a few of the top advantages of living in a gated community:
Safety & Security
For many international buyers, this is a basic requirement to life in Costa Rica. All gated communities offer 24/7 gated community access, which not only fosters peace of mind and fulfills general security preferences but also facilitates travel (you won’t have to hire a house sitter), part-time residence, and other international lifestyles.
From underground services to luxury and resort lifestyle amenities – luxurious beach clubs, infinity-edge pools, championship golf courses, night-lit tennis courts, hiking and biking trails, spas and wellness centers, and more – gated communities offer a wealth of amenities that would range anywhere from expensive to impossible to replicate on your own, if you lived outside the community.
Location & Accessibility
Many gated communities in Costa Rica, and especially those in Guanacaste, begin with a highly sought location and convenient accessibility. Because these communities revolve around lifestyle, they’re chosen for their access to the necessities – everything from an international airport and supermarkets to schools and beaches – and then, build internal roads and other infrastructure to match.
There’s a misconception that only “expats” live in gated communities. That may have been true decades ago but today, you’ll find that gated communities in Guanacaste are home to a diverse range of residents – from Costa Ricans and Americans to Canadians, Europeans, and more. What brings them together is not their countries of origin but their interests, which typically encompass an active lifestyle, family life, retired life, and more.
If you love continuity (but not cookie-cutter), then you’ll appreciate the architectural and design sensibilities of Costa Rica’s modern gated communities. While there’s plenty of customization in every new build, these communities also ensure a sense of visual and aesthetic continuity, typically via a master plan devised and carried out by a single architect and/or architectural firm.
Sense of Community
One of the greatest benefits to gated community life is a built-in sense of community. It begins with actual neighborhoods – many planned communities have distinctive neighborhoods, each with its own feel and amenities – and extends to a shared worldview, common interests, and the well-traveled, international makeup of your neighbors and community at large.
Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability
Chances are good that Costa Rica’s spectacular beauty and biodiversity are at least part of the reason you’re here. If that’s the case, then you’ll appreciate knowing that many of the best gated communities in Guanacaste are firmly rooted in sustainable construction and design, regenerative practices (ex. water re-use, revegetation post-construction, etc.), and environmental stewardship, including reserving acreage for wildlife reserves.
If you’re purchasing an investment home, a second home or vacation home, or even a part-time rental home, you’ll appreciate that many gated communities in Guanacaste also have onsite property management, which can ensure your property remains in optimal condition. Some also offer rental pools, which roll maintenance and rental management into one simple service.
Gated Community Types
Gated communities in Guanacaste are very popular – and for good reason! They afford security, comforts, a distinct sense of place, and amenities that can be either difficult or expensive to duplicate in an independent home.
That said, it’s important to understand that not all gated communities are comparable; in other words, they don’t offer a straightforward, apples-to-apples comparisons. To begin to understand their differences, we can classify gated communities in Guanacaste by their type: gated communities, lifestyle communities, and resort communities:
- Gated communities offer gated security and basic amenities, including a 24/7 guarded entrance gate, paved roads, a community water supply, and often, master-planned neighborhoods.
- Lifestyle gated communities add upscale features, including underground services (water, primary storm drainage, electrical, sanitary sewers, and utilities) and walking paths, as well as luxury lifestyle amenities, like community pools, hiking trails through onsite nature preserves, outdoor parks and spaces, Beach Clubs, and more.
- Resort gated communities incorporate luxury community amenities and add exclusive extras, which can include multi-million-dollar Beach Clubs with beachfront swimming pools, championship golf courses (with onsite golf pros), tennis courts (with onsite tennis pros), in-community restaurants, and more. These are the communities where everyday life truly feels like vacation.
Understanding HOA Fees & Strata Fees
There is no one-size-fits-all guide to HOA fees in Costa Rica; they vary, depending on a community’s amenities and home types (ex. condos/townhomes, single-family homes, or a combination of both). That said, there are a few general guidelines for understanding HOA fees at gated communities in Guanacaste. The first: HOA fees are higher at condos and townhomes because these HOA fees include grounds and building maintenance, as well as related costs; conversely, single-family homes are responsible for their own landscaping, building maintenance, and related costs, which in turn lowers their HOA or strata fess.
Other factors at play include community size, to account for the cost differential between, for example, a 2-acre condo community and the 4,500-acre Hacienda Pinilla; community type, which determines its amenity level, as discussed above; community size, as in more densely populated communities (ex. multi-level condo buildings), more units share the costs of community maintenance and therefore have lower per-unit fees; and community age, as older buildings and communities often have lower strata fees.
While there is no single answer to what you’ll pay at a specific community, we can share general guidelines. For single-family homes, strata fees usually fall in the range of $100 to $350 per month. For condos and townhomes, there’s a wider range:
- Low HOA Fees ($200-$300/month): In this range, you’ll usually get a community pool, front gate service, and road maintenance.
- Mid-Tier HOA Fees ($400-$600/month): For this monthly fee, you’ll receive full grounds maintenance for a 2-bedroom condo, plus community amenities like a resort pool.
- Upscale HOA Fees ($700–$1,000+/month): In this range, you’ve either purchased a large condo (3 to 5 bedrooms) or you’re in one of Guanacaste’s most upscale communities, where you’ll find saltwater pools, beach clubs, tennis courts, a possible golf course, and more.
Yes, in Costa Rica, foreigners have all legal rights to property ownership. These are the same ownership rights that Costa Rican citizens have.
Yes, as one of the safest countries in Latin America, Costa Rica is a safe choice, both from a legal and lifestyle perspective. That said, there are good and bad people everywhere in the world (we’re some of the good ones!). “Buyer, beware!” is good advice to follow, no matter where you set down roots.
In Costa Rica, a gated community can be classified as any community surrounded by a barrier (ex. a fence or wall) and having controlled access points (ex. gated entrances).
Of course, home prices fall into a range and that range is based on a complex variety of factors, including home type (condo vs. townhome vs. single-family), community type (size, age, amenity level), location, views, and more. That said, our inventory includes gated community homesites from $40,000 to $625K+; gated community condos and townhomes from $140,000 to $1.5M+; and gated community single-family homes from $110,000 to $3.5M+.
There’s no one answer to this question, either. Gated community residents choose their homes for many reasons, among them security and safety (including 24/7 gated access), community amenities (which can be difficult or expensive to replicate outside a gated community), lifestyle amenities (golf out your front door, anyone?), and convenience (you can travel anytime, without worrying about your home).
Again, there’s no single answer to this, as gated communities range in their amenity levels. All offer controlled access via gated entrances; from there, amenities can extend from the basic (paved roads and community utilities) to underground services, lifestyle amenities (community pools, beach clubs, etc.), and resort amenities (golf courses, tennis courts, beach clubs, etc.).
As we explained above, there is no easy answer to this question. If we had to summarize, for single-family homes, where you’re responsible for your own landscaping and home maintenance, expect strata fees around $100-$350/month. For condos and townhomes, where your HOA fees cover maintenance, fees typically range from $200 to $1000+ per month, depending on amenities, community size, and other factors.
The short answer is that all properties in Costa Rica are subject to a 0.25% (that’s one-quarter of one percent) municipal property tax. Beyond that, properties above a certain value (currently, about $200,000) are subject to a luxury property tax, aka a solidarity tax, which is calculated at an additional 0.25% to 0.55%.
Dreaming of paradise? Seeking your own, personal pura vida? Wondering whether a gated community (or Costa Rica, generally) is right for you? Welcome to your hub for Costa Rica relocation planning!
Your life, your priorities, your move – notice the key theme? They’re yours. And that means that none of the above should be categorized as one-size-fits-all. Hi, I’m Becky Clower and I believe in the personal. We work one-on-one and have those important heart-to-hearts. We discuss the whole truth (even the tough parts). And we work together to discover where and what is right for you.
Let’s collaborate on your dreams and work together to support your needs and goals, every step of the way. Because you’re going to need someone who’s on your side – a friend, an advocate, and an ally. And that’s me! So, welcome. You’re in the right place.