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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How to Retire at 41 to Costa Rica

Their vacations in tropical places left Denice and Robert Key wishing for more out of life and thinking, “What if…?” The couple had traveled throughout the Caribbean and Mexico when they were younger, and they could never quite escape the itch to retire early and move to a warm, exotic destination—something completely different from their Colorado home.

A Costa Rican Lifestyle That Pays for Itself...

A Costa Rican Lifestyle That Pays for Itself…

“You might wonder why I’m swapping Florida for Costa Rica,” Steve says, “and, you know, the answer is really simple. I’m more relaxed when I’m in Costa Rica.

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Kids Thrive in Family-friendly Costa Rica

About three years ago my husband, Scott, and I started talking about leaving Indiana and moving abroad, possibly to Central or South America. We had both traveled there and loved what it had to offer in the way of lifestyle.

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Good Location For… Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers

Ecuador, Costa Rica and Belize are three of the Latin American countries in the “cocoa belt”—the 10 degrees either side of the equator where the cacao tree grows. Here you’ll find a burgeoning cottage industry devoted to this type of chocolate making.

Four Places Near the Water to Buy Now

Four Places Near the Water to Buy Now

The first opportunity is a perfect bolthole if you’re looking for Caribbean living with a European flavor close to home. Direct and affordable morning flights from the U.S. will get you here in time to soak up early afternoon sunshine on the beach or bathe in the turquoise waters

Costa Rica is a business-friendly culture and the people are warm and friendly...it's a paradise for expat entrepreneurs.

Innkeepers in Paradise: B&B Success in Costa Rica

You wake up early for work. But you’re not slapping at the alarm clock in disgust, then rushing out the door for a long commute. You want to get up…you’re looking forward to the day. You get to enjoy that first cup of coffee as the rising sun makes the Pacific glitter…watch wildlife—toucans, parrots, even monkeys—make their morning rounds in the trees…

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Caribbean and Pacific Coast Fishing in Costa Rica

Fancy a few hours battling a half-ton striped marlin Hemingway style? The fish can get so big off the coast of Costa Rica that the skipper straps you into a chair to fight them. The waters of both coasts, the Pacific and Caribbean teem with legendary fish like marlin, dorado, and tarpon that, for decades, have drawn serious sport fishermen (and women) from around the world eager for record-setting catches.

ILCalendarMay13

IL’s Calendar of Events: “Jet Fuel” for Your Overseas Plans

Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…first-class healthcare is affordable… you can afford a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you could back home for a fraction of what you pay now…

Visiting the Hot Springs of Arenal, Costa Rica

Visiting the Hot Springs of Arenal, Costa Rica

If you’re ever in the Arenal region of Costa Rica there is one activity you have to make time for: a dip in one of the natural hot springs. Known locally as “aguas termales,” the 90 to 110 degree Fahrenheit waters are naturally heated by volcanic activity. In fact, most of the hot springs have a great view of the Arenal volcano from the pools.

Tips for Getting Your Residency in Costa Rica

Tips for Getting Your Residency in Costa Rica

There are several categories of residency for those seeking to live and/or retire in Costa Rica. Although it can be quite bureaucratic, the process to obtain your cedula (the Costa Rican “green card”) is actually pretty straightforward. Most expats who retire to Costa Rica and live here full time choose pensionado status.

Bringing Your Car to Costa Rica

Bringing Your Car to Costa Rica

Before you leave, work with the shipping company to make sure your car meets emissions standards. The test is done in the U.S. You should also consider whether your car will make a good match for Costa Rica. Although auto shops are common and labor inexpensive, the most common parts available are for Asian vehicles and every mechanic can fix them. It can be more difficult to repair an American or European vehicle.

Buying a Car in Costa Rica

Buying a Car in Costa Rica: 8 Tips

When moving to Costa Rica, many expats wonder whether they should bring their car from home or buy something when they get down there. Well… it depends. As covered in this article, “Bringing a Car to Costa Rica,” importing a car from the U.S., while relatively easy, can be quite expensive. In fact, you could pay close to the value of the car in import duties and fees.

costa-rica-sunset

The Best Sunsets in Costa Rica

In my mind, there’s nothing better than watching a sunset in a beautiful location, drink in hand. Fortunately, in my new home of Costa Rica, there’s plenty of opportunity to do just that. There’s 780 miles of Pacific coast–prime sunset-watching territory, as well as several spots inland that give you a great view.

Lifestyle in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Lifestyle in Tamarindo, Costa Rica: Beach Living at its Best

You couldn’t accuse it of having a secluded, deserted beach. But living in Tamarindo, Costa Rica certainly has its rewards. As one of the country’s most popular beach towns with a large expat community, Tamarindo has a lot of advantages and amenities. You’ll find a variety of options when it comes to housing, from low-cost apartments and condos to large ocean-view homes

Video: Los Chorros: A Spectacular Waterfall in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Thanks to Costa Rica’s mountainous terrain and abundance of rivers, there are spectacular waterfalls throughout the country. In the video below, International Living Costa Rica Correspondent Jason Holland highlights a waterfall, known as Los Chorros, just outside of the village of Tacares. From the center of Tacares you’ll see large signs directing you to the waterfall, officially known as Los Chorros Parque Recreativo, which is three kilometers outside of town

Video thumbnail for youtube video Video: The Hills of Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Video: The Hills of Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Costa Rica’s Central Valley has been an expat haven for decades. For good reason. It’s got one of the world’s best climates, averaging in the mid-70s year-round. And most towns are within short driving distance (30 minutes to an hour-and-a-half) of the amenities of the capital, San José, and its suburbs like Cariari and Escazu. We’re talking North American-style shopping malls and multiplex movie theaters (with movies in English), plus the country’s best private hospitals.

Living in Alajuela, Costa Rica

Living in Alajuela, Costa Rica

Alajuela, just 13 miles or so from Costa Rica’s capital, San José, is in many ways the country’s second city. It is second in size, with a population of 50,000. And it is also the home to La Liga, one half a bitter soccer (here known as futbol) rivalry with San José’s team, Saprissa. The country’s main international airport is in Alajuela. And it’s the birthplace of national hero Juan Santamaria.

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Volunteering in Costa Rica

For prospective expats in search of a more active overseas life, there is plenty of opportunity, especially in the field of volunteering in Costa Rica. There are several organizations that facilitate many different types of community work throughout the country. You can teach English, rescue wildlife, champion environmental or social causes, preserve habitat, help needy families, and much more.

Living in Santa Ana, Costa Rica

Living in Santa Ana, Costa Rica: One of San Jose’s Top Suburbs

San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, is full of small towns and villages that have merged over the years into the greater metro area as the city grew. One of those is Santa Ana, population of about 11,000. At one time known mainly for its ceramics and pottery, this once sleepy hamlet is fast becoming one of San Jose’s top suburbs.

Living in San Ramon, Costa Rica

Comfortable and Convenient: Living in San Ramon, Costa Rica

With 70,000 residents in the metro area, San Ramon, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, has many of the advantages of big town life: widely available and cheap medical and dental care; an abundance of shops, restaurants, and cafés; and just that feeling of “energy” that comes with living in a bustling regional center.

Living in Jaco, Costa Rica

Living in Jaco, Costa Rica: A Favorite With Expats and Tourists

Located in the heart of the Central Pacific coast region of Costa Rica, Jaco (pronounced: ha-ko) has long been a favorite of vacationers and expats.
This lively beach town features several large resorts, as well as many options for longer-term residents, like condos, gated communities, and lots for building.The wide range of housing options in all price ranges, from budget to luxury, as well as many amenities and comforts of home, make living in Jaco, Costa Rica a great choice for lifestyle and retirement overseas.

One of the Best Ways to Get Around

Flying in Costa Rica: One of the Best Ways to Get Around

Costa Rica is relatively small, about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire put together.But although much of the country is crisscrossed by a modern highway system, travel from one end to another can be time-consuming, especially to certain out-of-the-way areas, because of windy mountain roadways and unpaved secondary roads.

Living in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Living in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

The Manuel Antonio area on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast has been a long-time favorite of visitors. Just two hours from the capital San Jose on a well-maintained modern highway, Manuel Antonio is the site of the country’s most popular national park. In 2011, Forbes magazine named it one of the world’s best.At 4,000 acres, it’s a relatively small refuge and one of the smallest national parks

Living in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica

Living in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica

Those looking for a beautiful, unspoiled beachfront setting, as well as a sizeable community of expats, should find living in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica to be a good match.Playa Flamingo is located on the northern Pacific Coast, in the heart of what is known as the Gold Coast.

"We Drove 6,000 Miles to Find Paradise in Costa Rica..."

“We Drove 6,000 Miles to Find Paradise in Costa Rica…”

My husband Mike and I loaded up the van with luggage and our two dogs, Dino and Sprite, and set off on our long road trip. One month and 6,000 miles later, we arrived in paradise. Yanina, the owner of the resort, has been our main guide and comforter as we trudge through the red tape of dealing with customs regarding our shipment of personal goods, setting up bank accounts…

getting around costa rica

Transportation in Costa Rica: Getting Around the Country

Costa Rica is a relatively small country–about the size of New Hampshire and Vermont put together. And that means getting around is easy and inexpensive, and you have a variety of options. For trips to nearby towns and from outlying areas into town, there are regular bus routes, as many Costa Ricans don’t have cars.

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World’s Highest Tax Rates

Spare a thought for the citizens of Belgium. Their beer is great and their waffles tasty but they also suffer from the highest effective personal tax rate in the world. That’s according to a survey by KPMG. The auditing firm looked at income tax rates and other deductions like social security to calculate their results.

EnjoyTheSecretBeach

Enjoy the Secret Beach Life of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Sunlight filters through swaying palm fronds. My feet are in the sand, I have an ice-cold Pilsen beer in hand, and I’m savoring my lunch: a heaped plate of rice, beans, plantains, and chicken that cost just $6. Coconut milk and a secret blend of spices are commonly used in Caribbean cooking and it’s delicious.

JetFuel

IL’s Calendar of Events: “Jet Fuel” for Your Overseas Plans

Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…first-class healthcare is affordable… you can afford a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you could back home for a fraction of what you pay now…

WorldsBlueZones

Live the Good Life In the World’s Blue Zones

What’s the secret to a long, healthy, and enjoyable life? A group of researchers believe that residents of five Blue Zones around the world know it. They have the longest life spans on Earth and are less likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer, and other serious conditions.

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The Benefits of Eating Like a Local in Costa Rica

Eating like a local is one of the best ways to keep your cost of living low in Costa Rica. And for dining out that means frequenting your local soda, the equivalent of a diner or neighborhood restaurant in the U.S. They serve simple, nutritious food, including the casado, the unofficial national dish, which runs $4 to $6.

puerto-viejo-costa-rica

Your Own B&B in Costa Rica

Scott Dinsmore, 47, and David Russell, 52, keep busy running their Spanish colonial-style boutique hotel, El Castillo, on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. It sits 600 feet above the beach in the jungle-clad mountains that rise sharply from the deep blue waters.

costa-rica-beach

Starting Your Own Business in Costa Rica

You wake up early for work. But you’re not slapping at the alarm clock in disgust, then rushing out the door for a long commute. You want to get up…you’re looking forward to the day. You get to enjoy that first cup of coffee as the rising sun makes the Pacific glitter…watch wildlife—toucans, parrots, even monkeys—make their morning rounds in the trees…and bask in praise from departing guests…

A Perfect Climate in Costa Rica's Central Valley

A Perfect Climate in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

After a lifetime of cold weather in Alberta, Canada, retired couple Rick and Peggy Stewart were ready for a change. And they found a perfect climate—and many more benefits—in the rural community of Santa Eulalia about 20 minutes outside of the small town of Atenas, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. From their new home in the tropics, they can’t help but rub it in with friends and family back home.

ThePleasuresOf

The Pleasures of an Endless Summer

My wife Sylvia and I landed in this Pacific coast village of 302 (300 Mexicans, two gringos) six years ago. We bought a half-acre vacant lot in the center to build a modest, hacienda-style place. We had sailed from San Francisco on our 48-foot sailboat, Sabbatical but were easily lured ashore by the tranquil lifestyle.

Mansions

Mansions and Luxury Homes

Oak floors, chandeliers, large fireplaces, and exposed wood beams are things you’d expect to find in a chateau. And this perfect country getaway in Normandy has them all. Built in 1881, it’s set on five acres and surrounded by a mixture of lush green pastures and the forest of Eu. There’s a fruit orchard and the Yres River runs through the property, with a bridge leading to a private island.

ILCalendarEvents

International Living’s Calendar of Events

Panama’s a place of sunshine, 365 days a year. You have hundreds of miles of beach…highland retreats with green valleys where the weather is spring-like, even in January and August…and a genuinely cosmopolitan capital city, too, with one of the world’s largest financial districts. And Panama offers the world’s most generous retiree benefits.

playa-flamingo-costa-rica

Reclaim the Joy of Weekends in Costa Rica

Here in our home on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, we’ve taken back the weekends. We sleep in a bit. A small breakfast of fresh fruit and rich Costa Rican coffee follows—just something to hold us over. We pack up and drive from our condo in Tamarindo north along the coast about a half-hour to Brasilito, a tiny fishing village.

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