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10 tips for selecting the perfect Costa Rica vacation rental

Planning a Tropical vacation full of lush jungles, secluded beaches, and friendly people but not too expensive? Costa Rica is the place to go! But where do you stay, a resort or a private villa? Do you want long lines, crowded pools, kids running up and down the corridors? I think not.

Selecting the best Costa Rica vacation rental can be the difference between a great vacation and one where you feel like you are ‘doing without’.

Many vacationers consider the Costa Rica vacation rental as ‘just somewhere to stay’ since most of your time will be spent in or on the water, or enjoying local attractions. Don’t make that mistake. There is no reason to settle for less when, with a little planning, you can find a great Costa Rica vacation rental that you’ll enjoy as much or more than the other parts of your vacation.

Remember, your vacation home is where you’ll be sleeping, waking up, having many of your meals, and resting.

If it rains or is unseasonably hot outside, you may end up stretched out reading a book to while away the day or wanting to watch one of your favorite movies on the DVD – assuming there is a comfortable sofa. And when you meet new friends, you’ll want someplace nice for entertaining. Shouldn’t your vacation rental be a pleasant get-away with the amenities that make vacations a real treat? “A home away from home”

Here are 10 tips for selecting the perfect Costa Rica vacation rental:

1. The single most important factor is whether or not you can “see” actual recent photos of the interior and exterior of the vacation rental. It’s one thing to read a great description – and some of them are quite ‘complimentary’ (sometimes overly so) - but you need to see what you are getting.

With the Internet, a website is the quickest most convenient way for you to get information on prospective Costa Rica vacation rentals. If there are no pictures, you’ll know right away to keep looking. Brochures, books and guides are nice, but may have out-dated information.

2. List the amenities that are important to you, the ones without which you will feel incomplete. Next, jot down those that are nice to have, but not deal-breakers if not available.

With these lists as a guide, you’ll be able to quickly eliminate those rentals that won’t meet your needs. Your list might include proximity to the water, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, type kitchen (full versus fridge and microwave), outdoor amenities such as decks and BBQ grills, ocean views, private pools, outdoor eating areas, tennis courts and other items important to you.

On your secondary list, you might have things like a hammock for lazing about, or pool waterfall for the relaxing sounds. Exterior stereo speakers, to enjoy your favorite music around the pool. Ice makers to mix your favorite drinks, especially in the heat of the day.

3. List the activities that you want to be able to enjoy while on vacation. A morning activity like scuba diving, snorkeling or canopy tour then coming back to the villa to relax may be a high priority for you.
You also need to consider how close the vacation rental is to the airport. It is very important to know how far the rental is from your arrival airport. Some rentals can take a half a day’s drive and after your flight even an hour’s drive can seem an eternity. Your travel time back to the airport at departure can also frustrate your entire vacation. Enjoying your last morning of your vacation by a private pool instead of traveling for hours to the airport can be very important to you. For Costa Rica vacation rentals that are only 20 minutes from the Liberia International airport visit This will help you in selecting a general location.

You also need to consider how close you want your vacation rental to be to the attractions.

Some people feel that a great vacation is being able to walk or bicycle everywhere. Others don’t mind a short drive, and still others think nothing of getting

on a freeway to enjoy attractions.

If you prefer a vacation without the hassles of traffic, parking problems, crowds and long lines, select a villa located in the quaint waterfront town of Playa Panama, Costa Rica. Visit to learn more.

4. Identify your first, second and third choice of dates for renting the villa.
With several dates, you’ll save time when making arrangements.

If you find a villa that you really want and you have some flexibility in scheduling, having alternate dates ready allows you to book right then, saving yourself the time and hassle of having to re-check everyone’s schedule and call back – and risking losing those dates in the interim.

5. Call the telephone numbers for the vacation rentals that seem to meet your needs and speak directly with either the owners or the person who is handling the property.

Be prepared with a list of questions. This allows you to compare apples to apples, and keeps you from forgetting something important during the conversation.

It also gives you a feel for the person who will be your contact should you rent the villa and then encounter a problem. If you don’t get a warm, friendly welcome to your inquiries, don’t expect anything different when you have a problem.

6. Ask what amenities are included.
You may learn of something that’s not on your list but is perfect for your plans.
Does the rental have maid service? Last thing you want to do is make the beds or clean the dishes, even if there is a dishwasher.
Does the rental have a washer and dryer? If so, you will not have to take as many cloths with you. Will the maid wash your cloths before your departure? Coming home with a suitcase full of clean cloths is certainly a benefit.

Other things to consider: Is there a welcome basket? Will the owner have essential items in the refrigerator for you, before your arrival? Can you make arrangements for tours? Are there plates, utensils, pots, pans and other essentials for eating and meal preparation – or will you have to bring your own?
Does the rental have air condition or do you have to depend on the winds to comfort you?

7. Inquire about restaurants, events and activities and other forms of local entertainment that are close by. Here’s where your list of preferred activities comes in handy. You should be able to find links to local attractions, calendars and restaurants on the website of your Costa Rica vacation rental.

8. Are the owners local or do they have a management team helping 24/7?
Owners are a wealth of information about the area and can give you tips on great out-of-the-way places that aren’t in the guidebooks. They also care about your enjoyment and comfort while at their villa.

This can make a huge difference; especially should something need immediate attention in the villa. There’s nothing worse than calling the rental company about a stopped-up toilet and getting somebody’s bored teenager who’s manning the phones for the summer.

9. How long has the owner been renting vacation rentals?
If the owner has worked with rental properties, they know what tenants expect and how to get things done.

If this is a new venture, beware. The owner may be in it for “fun” and have no idea how to prepare the villa so that you can have a great vacation.

10. And last, when you look at the pictures, can you see yourself having a great time there?

If the pictures make you want to go right now, and the answers to the questions above meet your satisfaction, you’ve found yourself a great Costa Rica vacation rental!
Paul has been traveling to Costa Rica since 2001. Purchased property 2001 and built a villa in 2002. Handles villa rentals for five additional villas. Two, three, four and five bedroom villa's available.


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