Retire in Costa Rica
The Joys of Retiring in Costa Rica
When you retire in Costa Rica you will enjoy a high standard of living
If you’re ready for la pura vida, “the pure life,” you might want to consider retiring in Costa Rica. This country of just over 4 million is tucked between Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Costa Rica may truly have it all: a year-round tropical climate, modern cities, Caribbean beaches, Pacific coastline, rain forests, lush valleys, and mountains.
According to the U.S. Department of State, more than 20,000 U.S. expatriates live in Costa Rica, many of them as retirees. That’s because Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Central America. With an economy catering to tourists, you’ll have no trouble finding theaters, galleries, fine dining in virtually any cuisine, excellent health care, and modern telecommunications. In addition to its natural beauty, culture, and convenience, Costa Rica attracts many expats with its lower cost of living and slower pace of life. This jewel of Central America has the added advantage of still being relatively “undiscovered” by mass tourism.
Many retirees choose to live in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, within a few hours of the capital city of San Jose and its international airport, shopping, and medical facilities. The weather is also an important factor–this area enjoys year-round spring-like temperatures averaging 72ºF. Others choose to live near the beaches…the Guanacaste province and the Pacific coast from Jaco to Quepos are the most popular.
If you plan an extended stay, consider applying for either rentista or pensioner residency status.
Rentisa visa holders have to show income of $2,500 per month for at least five years, guaranteed by a banking institution or make a deposit of $150,000 in an approved Costa Rican bank. You must change at least $2,500 a month into colones (Costa Rican currency) and live in Costa Rica at least four months of the year.
Those seeking a pensionado visa needs to prove a minimum income of $1,000 per month from a qualified pension or retirement account or from Social Security. You must also change at least $1,000 a month from dollars into colones and you must live in Costa Rica at least four months of the year.
A recent increase in the number of foreigners choosing Costa Rica as a retirement destination has taken the country’s immigration staff by surprise. The result is that residency laws in Costa Rica can change, and people applying for rentista or pensioner status can sometimes experience delays. Getting the help of an in-country attorney will help things go smoothly.
What Does It Cost to Retire in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is not the place for bargain-basement living. It is the most expensive country in Central America; but in Costa Rica, you will find a high standard of living that is still far below the cost of living in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. How much it will cost you, of course, depends on your lifestyle.
You won’t need to give up anything if you retire to Costa Rica…except cold winters. Need modern appliances? A high-speed Internet connection? Cellular phone service? Costa Rica has all the infrastructure in place to meet all your needs. And because the cost of labor is low, you may be able to employ household help that will enable you to vastly improve your quality of life.
Again, depending on your lifestyle, you can get easily get by in Costa Rica on $1,000 to $2,000 per month. Spend more, and you will have a lifestyle that would never be possible back in the United States. Rents range from $500 to $3,000 per month for a large house with a large yard, depending on location. Rural areas are cheaper, and ocean and urban properties are more.
*Prices as of 2013
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