Many people interested in buying real estate in Costa Rica – and some long-time residents as well – want to know whether it is possible to live off the grid, or be self-sufficient in terms of electricity and even water.
Yes you can, but do your homework when buying real estate. If you are looking for suitable homes for sale or land in areas such as Guanacaste in the north, for example, there is virtually no precipitation worth talking about between November and June. This makes water self-sufficiency somewhat of a conundrum, especially if you live away from the coast and the waterfront.
Furthermore, if you buy a lot and intend to build a home, you will not receive a building permit – and this applies everywhere in Costa Rica – unless your lot has or can legally get access to water (another reason to have a good lawyer to do due diligence!), either from the national water institution (A y A), the municipality, or the local Asada (community water association). The same is true of electricity, by the way, which is provided by other institutions. To put it simply, you have to have it before you can build, but don’t have to use it
Some areas and homes for sale, especially rural, have their own wells or are connected to local wells via community associations and agreements. But once you buy property in Costa Rica, getting a permit to drill your own well in rural areas can be a big hassle, and are not always forthcoming, especially in Guanacaste alluded to above. In the rainy season, systems of individual water collection are totally functional, but in the dry season when there might well be no rain for 60-90 days, getting water via off-the-grid solutions is more difficult.
Electrical self-sufficiency when you buy real estate is less of a problem. There are several companies and builders that will equip your home with efficient solar panels, storage batteries and solar generators. There is no need for home heating at any time of year, and good insulation when you build your home in Costa Rica will cut energy use and costs drastically. Local construction companies and builders are now using techniques and materials developed in the USA, Canada and Australia that provide a very high insulation factor that make off-the-grid management and low costs very much of a reality for your new Costa Rican home.
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