A Safety Sanctuary: Planning Now for the Next Crisis

Living and growing up in Costa Rica I never thought about the concept of a Safety Sanctuary.  Over the years I now realize how important this is for many people and how lucky we are living in Costa Rica where we don’t really think about these things.

I clearly remember back in the early 2000s, I was still only a few years married and was beginning growing the firm after the first years after my father’s passing. At the time, we had a small office in an apartment found in the same place where we lived. One morning, on September 11, 2001, I remember waking up and turning on the television to the news, stunned to see images of the World Trade Center with smoke billowing out. A couple of years earlier, there had been a terror attack with a bomb in the basement, and I thought it was something similar. Not this time, this was something entirely different. We all know how that came about and everything that ensued.

In the next few years immediately after the 9-11 disaster, we started looking at a phenomenon that, at first, we did not understand. Our tourism was beginning to get more and more activity every year. Then we started hearing of more and more US nationals purchasing land around the beaches in Costa Rica. That went on for a couple of years.

In the local industry, there were comments about the luxury homes built by American owners. The Los Sueños resort became the first resort location where Americans were purchasing land to build their homes.

Around that time, we started dealing with some of our first American clients. I still remember my conversations with some of my clients back then and asking them why they had chosen to build abroad. The answer from James, one of my clients at the time, was quite an eye-opener.

Planning for the future

James said: “After the 9-11 disaster, for the first time, we realized that America had a weakness. For years we thought we were extremely safe. We thought we were protected geographically, with an ocean on either side. We believed that with the large size of the country and our military power, the American mainland was safe. For the very first time, we realized that was no longer true. We now feel anxious and concerned that we are not infallible and that this could happen again. This sense of uncertainty and risk is very troubling, and it makes us try to plan for the future. I want to have a place that I can consider safe in the worst-case scenario that something horrible was to happen back home.”

Safety Sanctuary

For years after this, Costa Rica received more and more North Americans that invested in their vacation homes in our beach areas. After a few years, the sense of risk after the 9-11 disaster subdued. The 2006-2007 bubble in the USA led locally to increased speculation over beach property in Costa Rica. Rising prices were total madness, people were buying and selling the same property over and over again just to make a quick buck. People had forgotten why they wanted to own a Safety Sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s international appeal

Over the years, then Costa Rica developed an excellent international image, and all our natural wonders are sought by more and more visitors every year. Over a recent couple of years, we have experienced significantly increased interest again from international buyers wanting to own property in Costa Rica. We heard over and over again that Canadians were running away from their ever-harsher winters. UK nationals have lost their EU benefits of owning property in Spain or Italy. Traditionally, Europeans, in general, have found the Caribbean to be an appealing exotic location. However, climate change is making every hurricane season more dangerous, and people don’t want their home to blow over every few years. Costa Rica is now a new option for British owners to think about their vacation home in Paradise.  The appeal of clear skies, nature and ocean views are quite the change from the grey skies and fog in London.

People were recently thinking of having a Safety Sanctuary away from harsh weather and climate change.

Today, the Coronavirus pandemic has changed everything. Life, as we knew it just a couple of months ago, has, and will further evolve. However, one thing that we already see right now, even while we are in the middle of lockdowns worldwide, is continued interest in property ownership in Costa Rica. We are directly experiencing an increase in inquiries from North Americans who want to buy a property and build a home in Costa Rica.

What we see today is a renewed sense of uneasiness and anxiety about the current situation. We see a very similar feeling to what my client James described in the years right after the 9-11 disaster. At this point, people do not think IF this could happen again; they think WHEN it could happen again.

Safety Sanctuary

We have become a safety sanctuary

Currently, in the middle of this pandemic, several of our past clients decided to travel to Costa Rica before the situation got ugly. They felt safer in their homes here in Costa Rica instead of being in larger urban cities that are home for them. Others that did not manage to travel before borders were closed are anxious to come to stay in their homes to wait out this situation out here instead of back home in the US.

Many others are thinking the same way, and those with the financial capacity to do it are deciding to move right now. They prefer to get started in the selection of property and planning, so they are ready for the next possible event. Owners realize that the process of design, planning, and preparation for construction takes time; therefore, they are deciding to move forward right away.

Costa Rica’s exemplary handling of the pandemic

Costa Rica has handled the pandemic situation exceptionally. Our number of new infections has been going down consistently for the past two weeks. As I write this article, the most recent news is that we have more people recover from the virus every day than that of new infections. Our health system had coped with the situation, total infections are still below 700, and the total number of deaths is still less than 10.

Compare that with our neighbor Panama, who had their first infected case a few days after we did, and today have over 5,000 infections and deaths over 150. Costa Rica is already receiving international acclaim by our management of the pandemic, and more and more news is coming out by foreigners that were here on vacation and decided to have an extended stay to wait out the pandemic here. They are even becoming vocal about how it is the best decision they made, as they see the numbers from their country back home.

At Sarco Architects, we are here to help you create your safety sanctuary.

At SARCO Architects Costa Rica, we are remaining fully productive and quite busy. Thankfully, being implementers of technology as a core part of our philosophy, this was a tremendous help in the middle of the pandemic. The decision to work from home was an easy one for us, and we have sent our design team home and began working remotely flawlessly. Over the past years, we always invested in the right systems and equipment to take full advantage of our technology. This approach was a massive advantage for us, as we have remained fully operational and working for our clients’ projects.  See how our approach to Designing in Paradise makes all the difference for our clients.

Contact us to find out how we can help you design and build your dream safety sanctuary in Costa Rica.  Schedule one of our Next Steps Calls to talk to our firm principal and help you along this path.  And as this article from Live and Invest Overseas describes, owning property overseas can also be a great investment: “How my overseas investments kept me safe from crisis”.



About the author

Roderick Anderson

SARCO Architects is a small-sized boutique architectural firm located in San Jose, Costa Rica. It is a family business owned by Roderick and his wife, both of whom are architects. The firm works exclusively with international clients, providing high-end custom architectural design services for luxury vacation homes and investment properties in Costa Rica, Panama and the Caribbean.