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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- 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
Each time I visit Costa Rica’s stunning lake country of Arenal, I wonder how this place has remained so long under the radar.
When expats talk to us about why they moved to Costa Rica, they’re sure to mention that they were drawn in by the beauty of the country. With both a Pacific and a Caribbean coast, dramatic volcanos, rain forests and cloud forest, and the largest variety of wildlife in the world (like toucans, howler monkeys, sloths and turtles), it’s easy to see why.
Yesterday I told you about one of my proudest discoveries: a mirror-flat lake whose dark green-tree-lined shore rises steeply to the cone of a towering volcano.
Michael and Grace Cummings moved to Costa Rica two years ago and now have a profitable income selling the New York-style cheesecake.
It’s a line you hear a lot on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. “We thought about Panama—we almost bought in El Valle. Then we came down to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone and fell in love.
Life moves at a much slower pace now. It’s very different from how things were three or four years ago. Today I wake up to a beautiful blue ocean view from my home on the Mexican island of Cozumel.
Years ago I decided that before I ever settled down I wanted to live in five new cities around the world. But when I originally imagined this “jet-setter” lifestyle I believed I would need to sell a company or save hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it a reality.
No matter how affordable the destinations we talk about are, the simple fact is: You can’t live anywhere for free…But what if you had an income that went with you?
Today, Costa Rica is the “richest country on earth.” That’s the conclusion we’ve reached over the three days of discussion we had at the 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference.
In the 12 years that we’ve lived outside the U.S., my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have called seven locations in four different countries home. Thanks to our work writing and reporting for International Living, we’ve become what we call “serial relocators.”
San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, can be, like any other big city, crowded, noisy, and full of traffic. But just 20 minutes away, and I’ve escaped. I’m at a small hotel and spa set on a former coffee farm in the hills above in the small village of Santa Barbara de Heredia. At 4,000 feet the temperature is perfect, in the mid-70s. The sky is blue, the surrounding vegetation a lush green.
Anna Fishel, 63, was living and working in Colorado in early 2012, and retirement was still years away…or so she thought. “There was a change in management at my job that made it absolutely miserable for me to go to work. I had bought my house in Costa Rica with plans to move in a few years.”
“Everyone has a different reason for leaving their home country,” says Gloria Yeatman. “Ours had to do with the fact that we wanted to retire early.”
When we arrived at the airport two days ago, a sign posted above the escalator leading to the customs area read “Welcome to Costa Rica: the Happiest Place on Earth.”
Two years ago I never would have imagined that I would be sharing the intimate details of my bikini-clad life on a deserted Caribbean beach.
I live in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, near the capital of the country, San Jose. It’s great to be near big-city amenities and conveniences.
2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica Package
San Jose, Costa Rica
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People go to work, pay bills, and all the rest. In that respect Costa Rica is much like every other country in the world. But throughout Costa Rica daily life takes on a different flavor, and the Pura Vida attitude is evident every day and everywhere.
Costa Rica has been an expat haven for retirees and others for decades because of its low cost of living, high quality – and cheap – medical care, warm weather climate, bargain real estate, and no-hassle residency.
Sometimes the most successful ideas for setting up a business overseas are right under your nose. Sometimes they are so simple, you overlook them.The very easiest thing you could produce may well have a hungry market just waiting to snap up your output. And you could be well on your way to profits with the most basic product of all—American-style food.
Moving from New York City to a small town in the U.S. is quite a culture shock on its own. But Rick Macsherry, 60, and Christina Spilsbury, 58, did one better. In 1989, they moved to a small fishing village on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast.
Over the years, Barry and Claudia Leon lived happily all over the States. They both had full and varied careers in psychology, college teaching, business, and biology.
Costa Rica is famous worldwide for its flora and fauna. Thanks to a wide variety of climates, from steamy rain forest to moist cloud forest to dry plains to wetlands and more, it is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet.
About three to four hours from Costa Rica’s capital, San José, is the country’s Southern Zone. It’s a stretch of coast that starts roughly at the former fishing village turned surfer haven, Dominical, to the border with Panama along the Pacific coast.
Gourmet dining may not spring to mind when you think of Nicaragua. But top-class restaurants serving international cuisine as well as the best of Nicaraguan food are growing in number.
In two trips over the course of a year, Gail went to San Jose, Costa Rica, for her dental work, spending two weeks each time. Her total cost for everything, including flights, accommodation and her dental work: $14,000—well under half what she’d been quoted in the U.S. for her dental treatment alone. And the quality was first-rate.
Life in Tamarindo, on Costa Rica’s northwest Pacific coast, centers around the beach.
My family and I came to Costa Rica for many of the same reasons you might. We were looking for some relief from our fast-paced and stressful lives in the U.S., as well as the high cost of living—it never seemed like there was any money left over at the end of the month. With my wife pregnant and us uninsured, we were looking for low-cost health care as well.
Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. With just 0.03% of the world’s landmass, it has an incredible 5% of the world’s species. And you don’t have to visit a national park or a remote area to view this plentiful wildlife.
When Valerie and Gaylord Townley first visited Tamarindo, it was a simple fishing village. The only visitors were pioneering surfers (Gaylord was one of them) and sport fishermen
About an hour north of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, lies a little-known national park: Braulio Carrillo.
Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, also known as the Gold Coast, has been an expat haven for decades thanks to a dry and warm climate, beautiful beaches, and a laid-back lifestyle
Today an estimated 20,000 Americans live in Costa Rica either full- or part-time, and it’s easy to see why. Costa Rica is a stable, affordable and beautiful country with a rich culture and admirable values. The healthcare here is top-notch. The facilities are excellent, the doctors are well-trained…
In my time in Costa Rica, I’ve had great experiences with the medical care options available.
Have you ever pictured yourself onstage, belting out “Dancing Queen” with the members of ABBA? Visit the Swedish capital, Stockholm, this summer and you can. The Swedish band finally has a museum devoted to its decades-long contribution to the music industry. It’s an interactive exhibition, and if you hear a red telephone ringing on your visit, you should answer it.
Costa Rica is one country that may truly have it all: A year-round tropical climate, modern cities, Caribbean beaches, Pacific coastline, rainforests, lush valleys, and majestic mountains. With its slower pace of living, warm, welcoming climate, healthy, fresh foods and reputation as one of the “greenest, cleanest” countries in the world…
Pauline Beauchamp wasn’t unhappy with her life in Southern California. She held a good job as a district manager in a lighting and home décor company for 28 years.
The Irazú Volcano, just east of Costa Rica’s capital, San José, is the country’s tallest at more than 11,000 feet. Its slopes are covered in forest.
Bruce and Karen Huss’s move to Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast evolved over time. Their first visit was five years ago, when they spent time in the exclusive Los Sueños resort community in Playa Herradura
Costa Rica…the name alone conjures up visions of lush tropical rain forests and crashing surf on long stretches of white sand beaches.