Costa Rica

Costa Rica    

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 year-round, neighborly atmosphere, no-hassle residence programs, excellent healthcare, a stable democracy, and safety and security. It doesn’t hurt that many retired couples report living well on $2,000 a month—that includes all their costs.

For these reasons, as well as the welcoming locals who are warm and friendly to new foreign neighbors, Costa Rica has been an expat haven for more than 30 years.

That’s another bonus: you don’t have to be a pioneer in Costa Rica. There are well-established expat communities throughout the country. Things are “set up” so to speak, when it comes to shipping your household goods, using the healthcare system, buying property, and more. And by following this well-trodden path, your transition to your new life is much easier.

It’s small, about the size of West Virginia. But the variety of landscapes, climates, and lifestyles in Costa Rica is amazing. You have the rainforests, wild beaches, and charming seaside villages of the southern Pacific coast, also known as the Southern Zone.

 

A Landscape and Lifestyle for Every Taste

 

There are the bustling market towns surrounded by sugar cane fields and coffee plantations of the Central Valley. Around the pristine 33-square-mile Lake Arenal, expats have taken up residence on the verdant hills rising from the shore, with vast lake views from their homes. On the Caribbean coast, life is laidback and moves to the rhythm of reggae. And that’s just a small taste of all Costa Rica has to offer as far as places to live.

With all these different climates and landscapes, it’s no wonder that this Central American jewel is also one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet. With just 0.03% of the earth’s surface within its borders, the country has an estimated 5% of the world’s species. In Costa Rica, this natural world surrounds you, putting the country on the forefront of eco-tourism and eco-living. Sloths, capuchin monkeys, toucans, and scarlet macaws will be your new neighbors.

And no matter which location you choose, you can benefit from bargain real estate, whether you buy or rent. Three-bedroom homes in the Central Valley start at $109,000 to buy and $300 a month to rent. And two-bedroom condos a five-minute walk to the beach on the central Pacific coast in a booming resort town are $500 a month, the same units selling for under $70,000. Deals like this can be found throughout the country.

Another big bonus is the high-quality, low-cost healthcare. There are two systems: private, for which you can pay cash or use insurance, and the government-run public system which you join when become a legal resident. Overall, expats in Costa Rica pay a fraction of what they did back home for medical care.

All these advantages make Costa Rica a premier destination for those looking for a secure, fun, and active retirement surrounded by new friends in a beautiful setting.

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Fast Facts About Costa Rica

Costa Rica
  • Population: 4,695,942
  • 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: 1,290km

Archives

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The World’s Most Romantic Retirement Havens

It’s that time of year again—the birds are singing, love is in the air, and hopeless husbands are trawling gas stations for that last bunch of flowers. It must be Valentine’s Day—that special day when you spoil the one you love, devote your attention to one another, and escape momentarily from the humdrum of everyday routine. It can be a wonderful time, no matter where you are, but it’s undeniable that some locations have a certain je ne sais quoi that adds that something special to the occasion.

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Seven of the Best Beaches in Costa Rica

With 912 miles of coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica has plenty of beaches. And you get a wide variety of looks, too. Some of these beaches are all natural, Robison Crusoe-style tropical escapes that you’ll have all to yourself. You can sit in the shade as you watch clear water lap against the shore on a lazy afternoon. Others are places to enjoy a cold drink in hand, toes in the sand, listening to music and people-watching. There are even large resorts and bustling beach towns with plenty of nightlife.

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The Easiest Places to Retire Overseas in 2016

Many factors come into play when considering a retirement abroad. Cost of living, prices of rents and real estate, and healthcare options are main concerns. But quality of life for retirees moving abroad also depends in large part on being able to fit in quickly, learn the ropes, and mix well with the locals in their adapted communities. Language, culture, and community support from locals and other expats all can have a dramatic effect on the quality of the expat retiree experience.

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Four Great Places to Retire Where it’s Easy to Fit In

When planning your retirement overseas, many factors come into play. Low costs, real estate, and healthcare are some of the main concerns…but what about being able to mix well with the community or make friends with the locals? Being able to integrate well will help ensure that you feel at home in your new home. Do the locals speak English or do you speak the local language? Is the community welcoming to expats? Are there groups and clubs available to join?

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Beach Resort Living on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast

Costa Rica is known for its lush, wildlife-filled jungles lining deserted white-sand beaches. It’s a favorite photo for the tourism board. The whole country appears wild…untamed. There is a lot of that out there. And having the whole beach to yourself while capuchin monkeys scamper in the trees above is quite a thrill.

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Loving Life in Healthy, Vibrant Beach-Town Costa Rica

A surf trip…that’s what brought me and my husband, Chuck, to Costa Rica. After landing in the capital of San Jose with my sister and her husband, we drove first to the beach town of Tamarindo, and then a couple of hours farther south to Nosara. There we found surf, beautiful beaches, and great restaurants…and the place that would become our retirement home.

Why I Keep Going Back to Costa Rica's Great Lake Region

Spectacular Views at a Great Price in Costa Rica’s Northern Highlands

The Lake Arenal area of Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s paradise, boasting 2,000 species of plants, mammals including monkeys and sloths, and birds such as toucans and scarlet macaws.

In the northern highlands of Costa Rica, the lake is the country’s largest landlocked body of water, covering about 33 square miles. It sits at the base of Volcan Arenal, which dominates the horizon at nearly 5,500 feet.

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Stunning Views and Good-Value Real Estate in Tropical Costa Rica

When most people consider moving to a tropical country, they have one thing on their mind: the beach. But while Costa Rica is a tropical country and has some beautiful beaches, not everyone wants to live a sand-filled life in shorts and flip-flops. Luckily, there’s a solution…the Central Valley.

Best Retiree Healthcare

Best Retiree Healthcare on the Planet in 2016

As healthcare costs and complexity in the U.S. continue to spiral upward, more and more retirees are asking, “Can I get high-quality healthcare for less if I move overseas?” The simple answer is yes. The Healthcare category of the 2016 International Living Global Retirement Index ranks the healthcare systems of the 23 most popular retirement locations abroad.

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An Active, Comfortable Life on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast

Away from the beach, Tamarindo has great food and a fantastic social scene. We gather at sunset every evening. Because we’re near the equator, it’s always between 5:15 and 6:15 p.m. Groups of friends chat and watch their kids play. Dog walkers nod as they walk past. Surfers pop into the water for one last wave. Bottles are raised as the sun disappears over the horizon.

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4 Countries With the Best Healthcare in the World

As healthcare costs in the U.S. continue to spiral upward, one of the main questions any aspiring expat asks is, “Can I get great healthcare when I move overseas?” The simple answer is yes…and without breaking the bank, either.

Costa Rica

The Quiet Costa Rican Countryside

For such a small country, Costa Rica is amazingly diverse as far as landscapes, climates, and lifestyle. There are bustling beach towns, big modern cities, and lush jungles. But throughout the country you will also find unspoiled rural areas of farmland, forest, and charming villages. Life is lived much as it has for generations. If you’re looking for a quiet place with small town values to set up home, you might consider the Costa Rican countryside.

Costa Rica

A Traditional Costa Rican Fiesta

Just about every town and village in Costa Rica holds a fiesta every year. It’s fun for the whole family, with carnival rides, food, music, dancing, and a rodeo. The celebration lasts for two or three days and gets going in late afternoon and goes well into the evening. In this video you’ll get a taste of the fiesta in Villarreal, a small town on the northern Pacific coast.

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Three Laidback Beach Towns on Costa Rica’s Northern Pacific Coast

Although Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast is popular with tourists, there are plenty of small and low-key beach towns where expats live. They enjoy a close-knit circle of friends, boating and beach-combing, great restaurants and beach bars, and quiet, mostly residential, communities. In this video, International Living Costa Rica Editor Jason Holland explores Playa Flamingo…

How Teaching English Opens Doors Overseas

How Teaching English Opens Doors Overseas

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel severals time a year to places like Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico. You might wonder how I became so lucky? Well, seven years ago, I came to Mexico to teach English as a second language. This allowed me to fulfill my dream of living abroad and immerse myself in another culture.

Puerto-Vallerta

You Can Afford to Travel…With a Portable, Copywriting Income

There’s nothing quite like waking up in your own little paradise—and realizing it’s not a dream. That’s how my husband, Casey, and I felt in our first home abroad, Puerto Vallarta. It was just a small place, perched on the mountainside, high above the bustling palm-lined malecón. Just big enough for the two of us, our crazy dogs, and a flop-eared Siamese cat named Tomás Cruz.

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The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2016

Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above. But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.

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Pina Coladas, Tropical Sunshine, and Earning Adventures

Jim Sayers considers himself a very lucky man. “I have lived in three Central American countries—Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica—and am in love with each one,” he says. “In each the people are so friendly. Add to that a wonderful year-round climate and most of the stressful issues associated with living in Canada or the U.S. are virtually non-existent.

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Enrich Your Life Abroad Through Volunteering

How do you see yourself spending your ideal retirement? Does it involve strolling the cobbled streets of an historic city in Europe? Or maybe you’d rather lounge, cocktail in hand, on a lounge chair by a tropical beach. If you’re like me, you’d prefer the abundant clean air and farm-fresh produce in an Ecuadorian mountain town, relaxing in the local expat hangout when you’re not exploring awe-inspiring valleys and colorful local markets.

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A Low-Stress Retirement on $2,000 a Month in Healthy San Ramón

As their retirement approached, Georgia natives Rob and Jeni Evans were left with a stark choice: find more work, or look for a new home overseas where they could live comfortably on their retirement income. They found just such a place in the city of San Ramón, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Here they now enjoy a happy, healthy retirement on $2,000 a month—including great healthcare coverage for less than a quarter of the cost back home. And having left the financial stresses and daily grind of the U.S. behind, they have time to pursue new passions in the land of Pura Vida (pure life).

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The World’s Top Retirement Havens for 2016

Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above. But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.

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Good-Value Buys in Our Top Retirement Countries

What makes for a great place to live? An ideal climate…modern services and conveniences like high-speed internet…high-quality but low-cost healthcare…a no-hassle visa or residence program…a lower cost of living. And good-value real estate. In many places around the world you can have all this, plus little luxuries like having someone else clean your house, your yard, and do your laundry.

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Rent for $400 a Month in the Lush Jungles of Costa Rica

Have you ever wondered what life in the jungle would be like? If you’re like me, it could be your own personal paradise. The funny thing is, I never set out to live in the jungle. I’ve lived in several places, including Patagonia, Chile, where I worked for five months as an English teacher before I returned back “home” to Kentucky. But I missed Latin American culture, so I found a job as the marketing manager for Outward Bound Costa Rica, an adventure school based in the mountains of Tres Rios.

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Video: Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

It’s the most laid-back and least-developed region of Costa Rica. On the Caribbean coast you’ll find no big resorts or hotels, no condo towers on the beach, no big towns. It’s a low-key place where nobody is in a rush and there’s always time to chat with a friend you run into. The area is known for its natural beauty as well. It’s a dramatic coastline of beach and jungle.

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A Carefree Beach Life in This Laidback Surf Town

I’m up a bit after sunrise for my daily ritual. It starts with a long leisurely walk on the beach. Something about the sound of crashing waves, watching anchored boats bob on the horizon, and the cool weather before the heat of the day hits…it just puts me in the right mood. I live in Tamarindo, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It’s a small town, popular with tourists, where life revolves around the beach. Surfing, which put Tamarindo on the map in the 1990s, is still huge here.

The Five Best Up-and-Coming Beach Towns for Retirees (Part One)

You awake to the distant cries of seabirds and the rhythmic lap of the waves against sand. Wearing flip-flops, a shirt, and shorts, you head out for breakfast, before taking the short stroll from the town’s main drag to the beach. Here you can take a relaxing walk by the shore, enjoy a book, or take to the ocean for some surfing, swimming, or scuba diving on a coral reef. As the day fades and the setting sun lights the sky a vivid orange, you retreat to your favorite beach bar to catch up with friends and enjoy a local cocktail or shot of rum beneath the palm fronds. Here, freezing winter mornings and the stress of working life seem a world away…and a lifetime ago. For many folks who call a colder climate home, retreating to a warm beach town is the dream.

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Live Where It’s Spring-Like Year Round

As the savage North American winter begins to bite and the snow and ice pile up, many of us find ourselves yearning for warmer climates elsewhere. Imagine a place that’s never too hot or too cold—just perfect. Outside, the birds are chirping, while gardens and wildflowers bloom in multicolored glory. You can walk around in a light tee-shirt at any time of year. Throw out your coat and boots. Forget about heating and air-conditioning bills and suffering through sweltering heat and humidity.

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Performing Your Way to a Paycheck Overseas

Your voice could be your passport to an income overseas…and we’re not just talking about singing. Sure, if you can carry a tune, you can take that talent with you. Many expats make their money, or at least a supplementary income, from singing. Some even discover that carving out a singing career is easier overseas.

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The Beaches of Costa Rica’s “Gold Coast”

Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, also known as the Gold Coast, is a tourist and expat favorite. It’s no wonder. It’s the sunniest region of the country. And visitors and residents alike have a variety of communities to choose from: busy resort towns, expat enclaves, deserted beaches, laid-back seaside villages, and more. Life is about surfing, fishing, shopping at charming farmers’ markets (and buying fresh off the boat seafood), and lazing away the day on the sand.

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The Bustling Beach Town of Tamarindo, Costa Rica

International Living Costa Rica Editor Jason Holland makes his home in Tamarindo, a busy beach town on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. Home to expats from North America, Europe, Latin America, and beyond, it’s a fun and funky locale known for its active beach lifestyle. In this video, Jason shares the charms of Tamarindo like watersports, watching sunset, and enjoying a nice meal with a view of the ocean.

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The 5 Best Expat Hangouts in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a lot going for it: lower cost of living, top notch medical care for a fraction of the cost of the U.S., bargain real estate, warm weather year-round, natural beauty, tremendous biodiversity, modern conveniences…the list goes on. It’s enough to make you fall in love with this small Central American country.

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Rent: $225; Electricity: $30…My Low-Cost Bills in Costa Rica

I start each day with a freshly brewed cup of local coffee…and think about how lucky I am to live where I do, the beautiful city of Alajuela, in Costa Rica’s expat favorite of the Central Valley. It’s always been a dream of mine to live abroad and now I can say that it’s a dream come true. Back in Seattle I worked in nursing, specifically Alzheimer’s care, a career I’d had since graduating high school.

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Half the Cost, Double the Freedom Living in Costa Rica

Fed up with the harsh Midwest winters and tired of working too much to pay for a life we didn’t have time to enjoy, my husband, Junior, and I decided we weren’t willing to wait for retirement to see the world and enjoy life. Just before Christmas last year, we started researching our overseas options. We sold all of our belongings after New Year and at the start of April this year, we landed in Costa Rica…without ever having been here before.

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Gun Laws in Three Expat Destinations

Whatever your personal opinion on gun ownership in the United States, there’s no denying that millions of U.S. residents feel a great fondness for their firearms. So it should come as no surprise that many aspiring expats want to bring their guns with them to their new home. While it’s possible in some places, be prepared for a lot more red tape and tighter controls than you typically face in the States. Bear in mind that gun laws are liable to change, so you need to do your due diligence if you plan to import or buy a gun overseas.

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Fund an Early Retirement with Self-Publishing in Costa Rica

My wife and I are a couple of quitters. Two years ago I left my successful career as the vice president of a litigation support company in Dallas, Texas, and Jen left her career in commercial title insurance. We were both in our early 40s. Changes in the industry I worked in and at the company I managed prompted a career adjustment.

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Solving a Retirement Crisis with Costa Rica’s Low-Costs

As retirement neared, Bob Beavis, 66, and his wife Linda, 59, thought they were all set. Bob’s last job was as a HR director near Dayton, Ohio, which made him eligible for a state pension. He found his job rewarding and he had a plan. He would put in his 10 years then get free healthcare in retirement, with $50 per month to cover Linda, too.

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Top 5 Healthiest Places in the World

Home to 4.4 million people, New Zealand and its awesome landscapes are admittedly a long way from North America. But as our winter is their summer, you could consider retiring here part-time. In a pollution-free environment, it’s much easier to embrace a healthy lifestyle.

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