The right of housing in Costa Rica

Having a house, or at least a roof over your head is considered to be one of the fundamental human rights. The right to a standard of living (Article 25). But it does not come as a surprise to anyone that many developing countries do not guarantee that fundamental human right to their citizens. Costa Rica does, which is quite interesting if one takes into account that this is not a high-income country. But simply a country that puts education, health and housing first. When Cris and I visited Costa Rica and Panama in 2013 we were surprised by the differences in the housing standards between the two countries. While in Costa Rica we found that most people had small but decent housing, in Panama we observed much more poverty and precarious housing. Now that we are living here, we have had the opportunity to learn, first hand, why this is the case. In Costa Rica, citizens get support from the government to build their own house. We don’t know the actual policies, but heard how our house caretaker bought a house for his family. The total price of the newly built house was what we paid for our second hand car. He got a subsidy worth about 85% of the price of the house. The remaining 15% and the acquisition of the plot were on his own account. What a person has to pay depends on his salary. That is, in the case of our house caretaker, he had to pay 15%, but others might have to pay more or less, or simply do not qualify for the subsidy. Getting a house built in Costa Rica also turns out to be an interesting affair, which will be the topic for the next post.

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