Santa Cruz de la Sierra: Real Estate Investment Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Patrick Chambers
2 min read

Santa Cruz de la Sierra is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Located in the Santa Cruz department of Bolivia, in the lowlands east of the Andes Mountains, the city’s first inhabitants were primarily Native Chané from East Bolivia. After them came the Spanish along with Paraguya’s Guarani. This has resulted in most of the city’s population being mestizo. 


Santa Cruz de la Sierra currently has a population of over three million people and generates nearly a third of Bolivia’s GDP. Migration from Bolivians in rural areas has fueled meteoric growth in recent years. This has led to significant development in the city, with the Ventura Mall, Bolivia’s largest, a symbol of this rapid expansion. Hotel groups Marriott and Radisson have already built hotels in the city. In late 2020 French hotel group Accor announced that it would be building a new Swissotel, featuring 138 rooms, rooftop bar, gym and heated pool. Luxury residential property developers have targeted neighbourhoods such as Equipetrol and Urubó. Some haciendas in these areas are already being sold for multiple millions of dollars. Quinta Katawango, for example, a five-bedroom hacienda ten minutes from Equipetrol, is on the market for $2m. 


Santa Cruz de la Sierra is not the only target of these structural shifts. A new sister city, Nueva Santa Cruz, is being built to accommodate the area’s swift urbanisation. This new city, spread over 6,000 hectares, is north of Santa Cruz, roughly 5km from Viru Viru International Airport. Construction has been underway for roughly two years and it has been estimated that there will be enough homes for 370,000 people, with a focus on housing for Bolivians as opposed to expatriates. 

Santa Cruz de la SierraSanta Cruz de la Sierra. Image: Getty Images

From a real estate investment point of view, this combination of substantial numbers of Bolivians moving to the city and billions of dollars, from both local and foreign entities, being poured into construction projects is promising. However, some challenges remain. First, it has been noted that in certain areas supply is outstripping demand. This current glut in housing has already caused a decline in rental prices. Therefore, the specifics of these demographics and the construction projects, in particular the rate of new home-building, should be monitored closely. 


Head and tailwinds impacting Bolivia as a whole should also be considered. On the one hand, the pandemic has catalysed arguably the country’s worst economic downturn in 70 years: GDP dropped by 8% and unemployment increased by 11%. There are political headwinds: it was only in 2019 that violent protests erupted over ex-president Evo Morales’ disputed re-election victory. On the other hand, there is cause for some optimism. Luis Arce, the current president, has begun to tackle the country’s land titling and judicial systems, both of which are highly corrupt. Furthermore, in December 2020 he announced the discovery of a natural gas field. There will also be a $725m investment to construct a zinc foundry in Oruro. This commitment to the creation of a more transparent investment environment and a continued targeting of natural resource extraction are both positive moves. 


Despite its recent, remarkable growth, Santa Cruz de la Sierra’s fortunes are closely linked to the nation’s wider economy. Bolivia faces a challenging year ahead and investors should pay particular attention to the country’s housing supply and judicial system. 

Leave a Comment
Recent Articles

Sign up to receive the Propeterra's newsletter and exclusive property news and updates. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe links in our emails.



posts by tag

See all

Market Cover_Emerging Markets-1


Market Cover_Frontier Markets-1


Market Cover_Special Situations-1-1


Market Cover_Developed Markets-1


Recent Articles

3 minutes read

Mongolia’s Active Diplomacy in a Post-COP World

In November, Mongolia celebrated sixty years as part of the United Nations (UN). For many countries, this means little, as such milestones, by definition, come and pass on a regular basis. It assumes greater importance for Mongolia, though, given the particular geopolitical framework it has to work with. By dint of geography, this vast country has an unusual position. In a strategically important location between Russia and China, it is relevant to not only its own prosperity but also the broader world. Since independence, Mongolia has tried to maintain constructive relations with those it shares borders, but also to project beyond North Asia. Its successful third neighbour policy, takes in partners from South Korea to Japan, India to the United States.


4 minutes read

Investing in Good or a Good Investment?

How can we judge the environmental impact of property development?
‘Sustainable’, ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘ethical’: too frequently seen as - and
used as - zeitgeisty buzzwords to allay any discomfort investors may feel
over looking for the next most profitable venture. But anyone with even
half an eye on the news and weather reports can see that environmental
sustainability can not be merely an optional consideration when planning
developments or deciding where to invest – especially when it comes to
real estate, given that almost 40% of carbon emissions are from the built
environment. But in a world with such interconnected systems and
ecologies, how can we predict impacts that may be surprising and far

AidData, a research lab at the College of William and Mary, Virginia, has
been developing the technology and resources to do just that. Their team
includes economists, political scientists, geographers, developers,
program evaluators, policy analysts, and communications professionals,
and they work with 21 different countries in Asia, Latin America and
Africa, using data and hard evidence to improve policy and development
outcomes, helping policymakers to move towards the UN’s 17 Sustainable
Development Goals.

Using satellite, household survey, economic, health, and other spatial
data, along with machine learning analysis and super-accurate data on
geographical boundaries, AidData have created various tools to analyse
the impacts of various development programs, and to predict whether
similar programs would work in other locations. Their Geospatial Impact
Evaluation methods enable fast and rigorous analysis of outcomes for
localised development projects, replicating the standards of a randomised
controlled trial. Development agencies and governments are able to very
quickly discover whether some certain infrastructure project, for example
irrigation systems or village road improvement, had the desired effect on
outcomes like infant mortality, poverty, or deforestation. The highly
localised and granular data can also show whether outcomes are uneven
from region to region, allowing more targeted development in future.
Is there a way we can apply the same rigorous impact-analysis to our
small-scale investments that AidData is enabling international
development agencies and world governments to apply to their
investment in aid, infrastructure, health, and other initiatives?

Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance are becoming ever
more important criteria when analysing an investment’s risks and
opportunities. In many emerging markets such as Malaysia and Indonesia,
the Islamic finance sector is growing more and more influential too, with
its strong alignment to ESG principles. Propeterra is looking at ways to
adapt the Geospatial Impact Evaluation methods created by AidData and apply them to affordable and social housing projects in emerging and

Social Impact

4 minutes read

Addressing the Global Affordable Housing Shortfall


Housing Crisis