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So, you’ve decided to relocate to Costa Rica’s tropical paradise.
Many people from all over the world choose to move to the breathtakingly beautiful country located in Central America. Did you know that roughly 2.5 million tourists and visitors visit Costa Rica each year? And about 50,000 North American expats and retirees now live there permanently.
Those 50,000 expats probably asked the same question – How to Move to Costa Rica?
Whether you’re a retiree, surfer, nature enthusiast, have a young family, or want to live a simpler, sunnier life by the beach, Costa Ricans (the “Ticos”) will welcome you with open arms.
Let’s be clear about something important; in reality, a new life in Costa Rica is not “perfect.” This is the case for expats, retirees, and its citizens. We will share some practical information and honest advice that will help you before you move to Costa Rica.
Where to live in Costa Rica
Choosing where to live will be one of the most significant decisions. Costa Rica is typically divided into 5 regions: Central Valley, Gold Coast, Arenal, Southern Zone, and Central Pacific. The expat communities are largest in the Central Valley, Gold Coast, and a little in the Southern Zone.
The cities of Jacó, Tamarindo, Dominical, Uvita, Ojochal, Escazu, Atenas, Grecia, and Puerto Viejo all appeal to many expats as desirable locations to reside.
The Costa Rica Healthcare System
The country boasts a contemporary, well-regarded healthcare system that is on par with that of the United States. Costa Ricans have universal health care coverage including the pre-existing conditions and a life expectancy of 75 years or more, which is one of the world’s highest.
The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, or CCSS, is the state-run health system. It covers medical treatment at any of Costa Rica’s numerous hospitals and clinics.
Note: Tourists won’t be turned away from Caja medical facilities in case of emergencies.
Doing Business in Costa Rica
Foreigners will find it easy to start their business in the country and employ the local people, as the government seeks to encrease tico employment. If you are not a resident, you can start a company on a typical 90-day tourist visa. This will enable you to either purchase an existing business, such as a hotel or BnB, or create your own.
Obtaining a Work Vista in Costa Rica
It is not as simple to get a work visa to open a business. You must first demonstrate that you are filling a position for which a Costa Rican is unqualified or incompetent, and an employer must sponsor you.
Residency and Citizenship
It’s very easy to obtain a Temporary residency status in Costa Rica by choosing the category that fits you best (for retirees, rentiers, investors, etc.), after 3 years you can apply for a Permanent residency status, and after 5-7 years you can be a citizen!
Buying Real Estate in Costa Rica
Foreigners and citizens have the same rights and are subject to the same laws. The Costa Rican constitution protects property ownership. You don’t even have to live in Costa Rica to purchase property or land, and you may do it even on a tourist visa.
A modest apartment may be rented for $400 USD to $900 USD per month, a small house can be rented for $700 USD to $1,800 USD or more, and more extensive properties, private villas, or luxury condos can be rented for $2,000 USD or even $3,000 USD.
The Cost of Living in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, a moderate lifestyle may be maintained on a monthly budget of around $1,500 USD, or $50 USD per day.
Costa Rica is not considered a “cheap” country to live in. It is just less expensive to live in than the US and Europe. Remember, that in Costa Rica you don’t have to pay for heating and AC in most places, car ensurance is much more affordable, organic food is much cheaper than fancy chain restaurants, etc. Just sum up one month bill back home and compare it to the one you have to pay in Costa Rica, and you will be pleasantly surprised with a significant difference in expenses.
Note: Budget about $2,000 USD – $3,000 USD in spending if you include dining out, entertainment, activities, and side trips. A retired couple may live comfortably on roughly $2,000 USD per month, including housing, food, transportation, medical care (which varies substantially), and entertainment.