Costa Rica's Last Boom Towns Could Make You Rich
Costa Rica is a beautiful country, with long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches…dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife…towering volcanoes, lush green valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear lakes and rivers…
Not only that, but the country offers a great climate, neighborly atmosphere, a low cost of living, excellent health care, and a stable democracy.
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Population: 4,695,942 (July 2013 est.)
Capital City: San Jose
Climate: Tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
Time Zone: GMT-6
Language: Spanish (official), English
Country Code: 506
Coastline: 1,290 KM
Read more articles about Costa Rica below
Costa Rica Archives
Costa Rica has a lot to recommend it: low cost of living, bargain real estate, the “Pura Vida” lifestyle, great weather, fabulous beaches…the list goes on and on. But one of the biggest benefits for retirees, business owners, and other expats is the health care. In a time of rising costs in the U.S., not to mention a contentious political debate over insurance and medical care, Costa Rica’s take on the issue is refreshing.
Are you sick of the rat race? You know the routine…get up, shower, have breakfast, leave the house, get stuck in traffic, put in long hours at the office. Get home, go to bed and do it all again tomorrow. Are you ready for retirement…but looking at your savings you know retirement is out of the question? Here’s how to survive a retirement crisis.
There are a lot of practical advantages to living in Costa Rica that I’ve discovered during my two years here. A big one for my family is the savings on medical care. When my son was born in June of 2012, we paid just $3,000 for the birth at a private hospital, including all the doctors’ fees and an overnight hospital stay. That’s cash, no insurance. We would have paid $15,000 to $20,000 in the U.S. When, at six months, the baby developed some health issues, testing and treatment was cheap too.
- Five Places to Get Affordable Health Care Overseas
Posted on November 29, 2013 by Barbara Ross
In the following five countries you will pay less for health care than you do at home. And the quality is at least as good…in fact, many expats say it’s better. Affordable health care isn’t the only reason to move overseas—but it makes the move more attractive. You can get great quality health care for less abroad, lowering your monthly expenses.
A lot of my friends here in Costa Rica, as well as many people I’ve met in my travels, are moving to Atenas. More than a half-dozen couples and families in the last few months have arrived in this small town in the Central Valley.
- One Incredible Opportunity on Costa Rica’s Forgotten Coast
Posted on November 28, 2013 by Ronan McMahon
Today, I want to tell you about a part of Costa Rica that is still a secret to most of the outside world. This place is called the forgotten coast because it is the least discovered and most unexplored region in Costa Rica. For years, tourists have flocked to the country’s Pacific coast and business has gravitated to the capital city, San Jose. Most people overlooked Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. For the handful who traveled there, they found first-class beaches, verdant jungle canopies and undervalued real estate. It’s easy to reach too… You can get here in less than two hours from San Jose on a new, modern highway.
The unique animals that live in Costa Rica are world-famous. There are poison dart frogs (not dangerous to people), three-toed and two-toed sloths, monkeys of several species, more than 800 species of birds (including the elusive quetzal and iconic scarlet macaw)…the list goes on and on. The variety of climates and landscape, and its location in Central America – the crossroads of two continents, means Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
“We chose Guanacaste [the name of the province] because of the proximity to the beach, the warm water, and the weather,” says Becky, who, thanks to a Costa Rican mother, was familiar with a lot of the country. “You don’t get as much rainfall as other areas of Costa Rica. And the weather is very predictable. From December to April there is no rain, and the rest of the year it mostly rains in the afternoon. You can do things outdoors year-round.”
When you move overseas, most things cost less. Health care is cheaper, beachfront property is cheaper and flights are cheaper when you qualify for a retiree program. You can even enjoy a symphony performance for far less than in the U.S., and have a better quality of life for less. Here is a list of five items that are cheaper overseas.
- We Said Goodbye to Our Old Life…and Hello to Costa Rica
Posted on November 25, 2013 by Emily Shea
Sometimes all it takes to make your dream come true is to take that first step toward it. My husband and I wanted to change our reality from your average suburban life in the States—mortgages, car payments, and credit card debt included—to a fresh life in a place where coconuts grow and the sun always shines.
- Costa Rica Versus Panama: Which Country is Best for You?
Posted on November 21, 2013 by Dan Prescher
My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I were married in Costa Rica 14 years ago and have been back for business and pleasure almost every year since. We also lived in Panama in 2006 and, like Costa Rica, have returned nearly every year for International Living events, editorial trips, and vacations. So it is inevitable that…
- 5 Quick Questions Everyone Should Answer Before Moving Overseas
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Barbara Ross
There are many benefits to moving overseas: the weather is better, your quality of life will improve and you will always have something to do. Here are a few quick questions that you should ask yourself before moving overseas. 1. What type of weather do you like? If you don’t like the snow then you should…
In the Kisama Heritage Village in Nagaland, northeast India, the Hornbill Festival is a huge celebration of the indigenous warrior tribes of the region. Taking place between December 1 and 7, the festival is named after the Indian Hornbill, a large and colorful forest bird. You’ll need a government permit to visit, but it’s worth it to experience the beauty contest, archery, wrestling, and lots of singing and dancing.
- Ocean-Views that Won’t Break the Bank in Southern Costa Rica
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Jason Holland
The southern Pacific coast, officially known as the country’s Southern Zone, is the Costa Rica of postcards and guidebook covers. Palm tree lined, virtually vacant beaches. The wild sea with rocky islands just offshore. Deep, thick jungle surrounds you inland. One of the most biodiverse regions of one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, it’s home to howler monkeys, toucans, and sloths and hundreds of other animals, as well as lush plant life from towering tropical hardwood trees to delicate orchids and sturdy bromeliads sprouting from branches.
For Rebecca and Keith Clower, and their two young children ages three and five, their house by the beach isn’t just an address…it’s a lifestyle. They recently built a home in a development on the Bahia de Los Piratas, or Pirate’s Bay, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, also known as the Gold Coast. They live on a hill, with an ocean-view, and you can see clear to Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal, two nearby expat enclaves. The beach is mere minutes away on foot.
Winner of the 2013 Global Retirement Index, Ecuador offers sophisticated historical cities…miles of unspoiled, sun-kissed beaches…fertile farmland…and temperate mountain hideaways…and all of it for pennies on the dollar. You can live well for a fraction of the cost of living back in the U.S. And with Ecuador’s official currency the U.S. dollar, you needn’t worry about complicated currency calculations or exchange risks.
- In Pictures: Why Costa Rica is the Ideal Place to Retire
Posted on November 14, 2013 by Jason Holland
Costa Rica has been a top retirement destination for more than three decades. An estimated 20,000 North Americans call it home today (more if you count part-timers and “snowbirds” who come for North American winters). And it continues to be a favorite of retirees for the same reasons it always has been: low cost of living; ideal climate; natural beauty; a stable government; friendly locals; safety; easy residency requirements; and bargain real estate.
If you are working an average job in the U.S., you might be just like I was a few years ago. I was working a 9-to-5 desk job at a bank, spending what little daylight hours I had running errands, cooking and cleaning up, and preparing for it all to start over again. Like most people, I had a yearning for adventure deep in the pit of my stomach, and didn’t know how to “fix” it.
When I started learning Spanish in Spain some years ago, I never envisioned how helpful it would become. Mostly, I just wanted to know how to order food, talk to people a bit and avoid embarrassing myself as much as possible. The more I learned, however, the more I discovered how much of a key that speaking the language is. Spanish has opened many doors for me—in Spain, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico.
I have a pretty standard morning routine. I’m awakened very early by roosters but stay in bed for a while as the sunrise filters into the bedroom. I start the coffee, open the sliding doors, step out to my deck, and look down into the valley below. I usually see hummingbirds buzzing around my flowers, sometimes a blue-crowned mot-mot. Some mornings one of my neighbors, a farmer, has been up even earlier…
A rich, lush wonderland of dizzying mountain peaks, virgin forest and a sandy coastline all combine to make Costa Rica’s Southern Zone our most popular chill week destination. But these are not the only reasons why this stunning area is proving so popular. Thanks to a new road, this location is opening up to tourism, business and development. For now, you can own a lot here for only $40,000, or a brand-new home for $150,000. These chill weekends sell out months in advance, so snap up your spot now.
Laying under a palm tree on a tropical beach is a fantasy many people only act out during vacation or retirement. Sure, we would all love to live in paradise long before our twilight years, but, so the thinking goes, it’s far from feasible. Not so. In fact, more and more hard-working North Americans have begun to redefine their life parameters and are moving abroad to exotic locations before retirement. How? By opening businesses that support their lives abroad in the country of their dreams.
- When My Wife Tried to Speak Spanish in Costa Rica…
Posted on October 29, 2013 by Jason Holland
My wife is a very outgoing person. But when we moved to Costa Rica…things changed. I speak Spanish. Her? Well, she took a few semesters in college. She tried her best…but often got flustered when having a real-life conversation. So it was up to me to act as a translator and talk to everybody: the gardener, the maid, bus drivers, people on the street to get directions, our neighbors, the utility company…you get the idea.
- October 2013: A New Opportunity to Profit in Brazil
Posted on October 23, 2013 by Ronan McMahon
Your October issue of Real Estate Trend Alert is ready. Here is just some of what you’ll find in your latest issue:
∗ A New Opportunity to Profit in Brazil: I’ve scouted an exciting new deal in Brazil’s Northeast where there is still a window of opportunity to profit. There are limited lots (only 43 left) for members at a special 10% discount with developer financing before the project launches to the local market. Find out more…
Since writing was something that I’d always loved, it seemed reasonable that it could become my ticket to traveling the world. I spent a couple of months researching the best way to get started on this new career, and then submitted my first story about Costa Rica to International Living. You can’t even imagine how excited I was when they agreed to publish it!
- In Pictures: The Rugged Charms of Costa Rica’s Southern Zone
Posted on October 22, 2013 by Jason Holland
You won’t find all-inclusive resorts, high-rise condos, or touristy themed restaurants in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone. But, in this region on the southern Pacific coast, you will fall in love with vast empty beaches, wildlife-filled jungle, dramatic mountain backdrops, and sunsets to die for.
I first visited Manuel Antonio on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast as a newlywed back in 2005. It was everything I’d read about the country and seen in pictures: White-sand beaches lined with palm trees and green-blue Pacific Ocean with jungle-covered mountains as the backdrop. And let’s not forget the wildlife. Capuchin monkeys. Three-toed sloths. And dozens of birds with vivid plumage.
I have a pretty standard morning routine. I’m awakened very early by roosters but stay in bed for a while as the sunrise filters into the bedroom. I start the coffee, open the sliding doors, step out to my deck, and look down into the valley below. I usually see hummingbirds buzzing around my flowers, sometimes a blue-crowned mot-mot.
Winner of the 2013 Global Retirement Index, Ecuador offers sophisticated historical cities…miles of unspoiled, sun-kissed beaches…fertile farmland…and temperate mountain hideaways…and all of it for pennies on the dollar.
There I was 140 feet up a tree in the rainforest of Costa Rica’s Southern Zone. I’d hoisted myself up using mountaineering gear–it took about 30 minutes. Now, as we rested dangling in our harnesses, we watched a trio of toucans of one species eating nuts on a nearby tree and then a pair from another species fly right by our heads.
- In Pictures: Majestic Views of Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
Posted on October 15, 2013 by Jason Holland
Lake Arenal is Costa Rica’s largest lake and it can be distracting to drive along the road that rings it. The natural beauty and wildlife is what catches your eye, and makes you pull over to take a better look.
Many who were on the fast track to retirement have now seen their retirement savings depleted and their plans sidetracked. Many wonder if they can retire at all, much less earlier than planned.
With a few simple strategies and ideas there are a couple of ways to salvage your retirement plans.
The breeze is gently swaying the hanging bed, perched over a terraced hill, with views of three islands in the foreground. The South Pacific, an intoxicating mix of jade, turquoise and cobalt, is just a few steps down the stairs. Behind me is the pool with a mosaic, blue starfish in the bottom and lounge chairs—farther back, a three-bedroom, three-bath house…each room with its own view of this unspoiled paradise.
Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America. The country’s public and private sectors are constantly being upgraded. Despite the building of new hospitals, new equipment and the improvements in staff training, costs remain low in comparison with the U.S.
When Karen McCrea, 56, and Axel Santana, 46, were looking for an ideal spot for their guest houses, they had a few criteria. The location had to be unspoiled, yet with amenities their guests might expect like hot water, high-speed Internet, and quick access to grocery shopping. The couple found their spot during a trip to the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in 2006. The region, also known as the Southern Zone…
- Where to Get More for Your Dollar (and What to do if it Devalues…)
Posted on October 3, 2013 by Jennifer Stevens
You ain’t nothin but a hound dog…cryin’ all the time… Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit… And you ain’t no friend of mine… Elvis was in the house last night. Young Elvis. Dressed in a nicely tailored black suit with a white, open-collared shirt, he serenaded our VIP readers over cocktails in the 20th-floor penthouse here at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. As I wandered through the crowd yesterday evening, I was pleased to hear that—the occasional Elvis recollection aside—the conversations had turned to the details shared thus far about the world’s best retirement destinations.
- “This Retirement Haven Keeps Getting Better and Better”
Posted on October 3, 2013 by Jennifer Stevens
“From curried kale chips to soy milk…every time I say, ‘I wish we could get that here,’ the person I’m talking to tells me we can and where I can go to pick it up…or I stumble on the item myself at the store two weeks later,” said Jessica Ramesch this morning to a packed house of 800 International Living readers. “Panama just keeps getting better and better.”
While American expat Bill Bryson was toiling away at a London newspaper, he was dreaming about becoming a freelance writer. With a wife and family to support, he convinced himself this was a risky and selfish dream. So Bill continued to drag himself to a job that was growing more loathsome by the day.
- Americans Living Off Their Retirement Savings Overseas
Posted on October 1, 2013 by Barbara Ross
The average U.S. Social Security check is $1,230 a month for a retired worker. That may not seem like a lot–but when you retire overseas you can cut your cost of living. Below are stories from expats who did just that.
Welcome to IL
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