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, neighborly atmosphere, a low cost of living, excellent health care, and a stable democracy.


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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



How Could This Caribbean Gem Be Forgotten?

I’m in Playa Negra, on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, in a house in the jungle. The black sand beach, empty save for a few guests from a nearby hotel lounging on beach chairs, is a five-minute walk down the trail.

A Family Retreat in Costa Rica

A Family Retreat in Costa Rica

The land was narrow in front. There was a river, a real river, but no bridge. Then we started to notice the gorgeous trees. We put a ladder over the river and climbed over. As we walked deeper in, the views started opening up. I could see volcanoes in the distance. I knew this was the land I had seen in my mind.”


How Expats in Costa Rica Access Low-Cost, Top-Quality Care

When expat Gloria Yeatman needed surgery in May 2010, money was not a worry. This U.S. expat, who lives just outside the Central Valley town of San Ramón, did have to chip in $55 for an ultrasound, $40 for a visit to the doctor…and then there’s that $42-a-month fee she and her husband Paul pay for medical care in Costa Rica. But that was it. And that’s from the initial doctor visit to the eventual surgery and recuperation.

“Everyone Thought We Were Crazy”

“Everyone Thought We Were Crazy”

It was hard to tell over the phone. But I think my mother was in tears when I broke the news that we were moving to Costa Rica. Most of our friends were shocked. Others just couldn’t understand why anyone would want to live outside the United States. In short, everybody thought we were crazy for trying to make a new life overseas.

How Sara Grew Her Own Forest in Costa Rica

How Sara Grew Her Own Forest in Costa Rica

Sara, “70 and proud of it,” lives on a former cattle pasture she has reclaimed for Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife. Her 723-acre Finca Dos Lados, or “Two-Sides Farm,” is so named because it straddles the Continental Divide, featuring both Atlantic and Caribbean wildlife habitats. A retired flight attendant, Sara bought the property in 2002. For several years prior, she’d visited Costa Rica…


The Most Beautiful Beach in Costa Rica

It just might be the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica. You’ll find it at the end of the road, literally, in the far southeastern corner, near the border with Panama. It’s on the Caribbean coast, the most undeveloped portion of the country. You drive two hours east of the capital San Jose, on Highway 32, and hang a right at the port city of Limon.

These Expats Discovered Their Paradise in Costa Rica

These Expats Discovered Their Paradise in Costa Rica

“We found our paradise in Costa Rica,” says Beaty Fomby. But it wasn’t where they thought it would be… They looked at condos and homes in the city. (“But we’re not city people,” she said.) They also looked at the beach, her husband, Ed, chimed in. He’s a fisherman and he loves the warm beach climate…but his wife, “not so much.”


Escape to Paradise in Costa Rica

I am not a “dissatisfied” American. I have never had a desire to move out of the country. The freedom and principles of the U.S. are a treasure, but living there has gotten very hard since losing my job in the recession. So imagine my surprise to find that while a Social Security income will give you a subsistence level of living in the U.S.—it will practically give you a luxury lifestyle in Costa Rica…

I've Completely Changed My Mind About Costa Rica

I’ve Completely Changed My Mind About Costa Rica

“America is no place to get old.” So says Gloria Yeatman. “There’s just a lack of civility in general.” So she and her husband, Paul, looked for better options. They wanted fun and adventure in their retirement. “And no more snow,” she laughs, showing a photo of their snowed-in home back in Baltimore. “Plus, retirees like us just can’t afford to live in the States these days.”


2012 Fast Track Costa Rica Package

2012 Fast Track Costa Rica Package
San Jose, Costa Rica – November 2012

As they started planning for retirement, Ed and Beaty wanted to be sure the nest egg they’d worked hard to create wouldn’t crack under pressure. They wanted it to continue to grow… to fund some exotic travel… and to have something to leave to their children and grandchildren. Their dreams came true in Costa Rica. Here’s how they did it.

Video: Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean Coast

In this video, Jason Holland, International Living’s Costa Rica correspondent, highlights the beautiful beaches and laid-back towns of the country’s southern Caribbean coast, including Manzanillo, Puerto Viejo, and Punta Uva.


Stunning Lake Views in Arenal, Costa Rica

Quiet. If you gave me one word to describe the Lake Arenal region of Costa Rica, that would be it. If I had a few more… Verdant. Contemplative. Relaxed. Although the area is increasingly on the radar of expats from around the world, it remains unspoiled and sparsely developed.


The Nuts and Bolts of Moving to Costa Rica

People choose to move to Costa Rica for a variety of reasons: a low cost of living, affordable and modern health care, a tropical climate, bargain real estate, a pristine natural setting…the list goes on. But what happens when you make that decision to move? What’s the next step? And how do you live day-to-day once you get here? In our cover story, IL’s Costa Rica correspondent, Jason Holland, share some tips for navigating essential activities when you move to Costa Rica—like securing legal residency, banking, getting around, making new friends, and more.


Affordable, High-Quality Dental Care in Costa Rica

My recent trip to Costa Rica was an amazing experience. And to think it only happened because I needed expensive dental work, and that traveling to Costa Rica for it actually paid for most of my vacation. In recent years, dental costs have risen faster than inflation. And since only 55% of U.S. residents have dental insurance, that means half of us are paying cash out-of-pocket for dental work.

Turnips, Russian Wine, and a Monkey Buffet

Turnips, Russian Wine, and a Monkey Buffet

Experience the Day of the Dead in Mexico on November 1 when people gather to honor their departed love ones with big parties across the country. If you’re in India the first two weeks of November, then head to the capital, Delhi, where you’ll find music, theater, dance, film, and poetry in 50 venues across the city for the Delhi International Arts Festival.

San José a major transportation hub and the nation’s main international airport is just outside of town. © Hugo Ghiara

When You Find Yourself in San José, Costa Rica…

Whether it’s as a place to retire or just vacation, if Costa Rica is on your list, then at some point you’re likely to find yourself in San José, the country’s bustling capital. It’s a major transportation hub and the nation’s main international airport is just outside of town. It also has the best public and private medical care in the country. With beach and lakeside towns and cool highlands to chose from in Costa Rica, San José is not likely to top your list as a place to live, but it definitely has some worthwhile diversions to recommend it.


Yankee Spirit in the Mountains of Costa Rica

At 6,000 feet, Costa Rica’s tropical climate has given way to cool. Temperatures are generally in the 60s F year-round, 50 F on a cold day. Yet Sara Clark, who lives on Poas Mountain above the Central Valley towns of Grecia and Sarchí, calls her homestead paradise. “I live up in the clouds with the angels,” she says. “My family always prided itself on self-sufficiency and Yankee ingenuity,” explains Sara. She’s brought both with her to Costa Rica, where she’s content among the few families who live on this part of the mountain.

Explore All that Costa Rica Has to Offer

Explore All that Costa Rica Has to Offer

Columbus called Costa Rica “the Rich Coast”—and it still is, with Caribbean beaches and Pacific shoreline that’ll take your breath away. But this nation has much more to offer, too: a year-round tropical climate, modern cities, rain forests, lush valleys and majestic mountains.


Costa Rica’s Southern Zone – Casitas for $136,000

The terms in this Alert are valid until December 31. These casitas are charming little homes will be built in a Spanish colonial-style. Finishes will be high-end and the homes will be designed for comfortable living. Members of our group can knock $4,000 off the price.


8 True Stories About a Better Life in Costa Rica

What’s drawing IL readers to Costa Rica? Take your pick—long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches (Caribbean and Pacific)…dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife…towering volcanoes, lush green valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear lakes, rivers, streams, and waterfalls… mesmerizing sunrises, sunsets, and star-filled evening skies…an affordable, happy, healthy way of life…

In Costa Rica, My Allergies Have Disappeared...

“In Costa Rica, My Allergies Have Disappeared…”

Life in Costa Rica feels like a dream—but one I don’t have to wake up from. The climate here is awesome. Sunrise and sunset are at the same time every day, allowing my internal clock to get into a natural, uninterrupted rhythm. The sun rises at 5.00 a.m., warms the land and fills me with happiness for 10 months out of the year. A cool breeze flows through the Central Valley, where I live, never allowing the temperature to get too high.


The Perks of Owning a Business by the Beach in Costa Rica

When Brian and Stephanie Gough went on vacation in Tamarindo, a stunning stretch of palm-fringed shoreline on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, their lives changed forever. They had such an incredible time that they couldn’t bear the thought of going back to their old lives. So they bought a local restaurant. “We fell in love with Tamarindo,” says Brian.

An Expat's Insight on Living and Working in Costa Rica.

IL Radio Episode 36: An Expat’s Insight on Living and Working in Costa Rica

It’s a long way from Deadwood, South Dakota, to Atenas, Costa Rica, but Tom and Kay Costello made the move nine years ago and have never looked back. In fact, the little bakery and restaurant they started in Atenas is now the nerve center of the expat community there… sooner or later you’ll meet everybody there is to meet at Kay’s Gringo Postres.

Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Like “Buenos Dias” in the rest of Latin America, “Pura Vida” can be used as both greeting or farewell or simply as a happy exclamation. Depending who you ask, it means “good…or pure life,” “plenty of life,” “full of life,” “this is living,” or even “awesome!” or “cool!”


Could They Have Found the True Mayberry?

Every expat who moves from the United States to Costa Rica has to make some adjustments. Things are slower, more relaxed. The lifestyle is about time with family and friends, not work and material possessions. You won’t find big box stores on every corner…

Endless Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Costa Rica.

Endless Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Costa Rica

Wingtips, suit and tie sitting in Southern California rush hour traffic…or flip-flops and shorts by the beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. It wasn’t a tough choice for Jeff Ruzicka. Today, the 43-year-old runs Marlin del Rey Sailing Tours in Tamarindo and Playas Del Coco on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast. He’s also a co-owner of the business, with his uncle, a long-time expat.


Where to Find a Cool Mountain Climate in Costa Rica

We’re near the top now when a cloud rushes in, and we’re immersed. Zero visibility. Better slow down and pull over. And that puts us in prime position a few seconds later when the cloud has passed to see the entire valley laid out before us. It’s been just a 45-minute drive from the city below but we’re worlds away. I’m in Costa Rica’s Central Valley.


Costa Rica: No Spanish – No Problem

Bless her heart, but my wife’s friend “Linda” (name changed to protect the embarrassed) has a knack for often saying the “wrong” thing when speaking Spanish. And during her recent visit to our home in Costa Rica she outdid herself. At breakfast she tried to tell the waiter she needed more coffee because she was tired (Estoy cansada) but repeated Estoy casada (“I’m married”) several times…

Chopin, Matchmaking, and Indian Gods

Chopin, Matchmaking, and Indian Gods

The renowned Malaysia International Gourmet Festival in Kuala Lumpur runs the whole month of October. Expect a “Theatre of Cuisines” and a “Gourmet Village.” The wonderfully-named Madajazzcar, Madagascar’s leading jazz festival, takes place from October 3 to 15 with performances around the island.

Oct12News & Notes From Around The World

News & Notes from Around the World

For over 400 years, the temple city of Angkor Wat in northern Cambodia served as the capital of the vast and powerful Khmer Empire. From the 9th century, successive kings tried to outdo each other with ever grander designs, and you’ll find their legacy spread across 150 square miles. Ornate carvings, decorated palaces and symbolic temples are everywhere, much of it covered in jungle. At times it feels as if you’ve walked onto the set of Indiana Jones.

Explore All that Costa Rica Has to Offer

Explore All that Costa Rica Has to Offer

Columbus called Costa Rica “the Rich Coast”—and it still is, with Caribbean beaches and Pacific shoreline that’ll take your breath away. But this nation has much more to offer, too: a year-round tropical climate, modern cities, rain forests, lush valleys and majestic mountains.

Video of a Natural Paradise in Costa Rica

Video of a Natural Paradise in Costa Rica

“Stop. Shhh. Listen,” the guide whispers. He brings binoculars up to his eyes in a fluid motion. A sharp intake of breath. “Aaahhh… yes! See that long branch there, with the one brown leaf at the end? Look directly below.”


Costa Rica: A Tropical Paradise You Can Call Home

They come to enjoy fresh fruits and veggies that go straight from the farm to market to your kitchen—for a half to a third of what you’d pay in the U.S. And then there’s the climate—one of the best in the world. It’s cool in the mountains year-round. It warms up along the coast but there are sea breezes to cool things off and shady trees by the beach to enjoy a cold beer under.


How to Earn an Income From Fishing

“Fish don’t live in ugly places” is Captain Ron Saunders’ motto. And that’s certainly true of his home of seven years, Lake Arenal, in the highlands three hours west of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The 50-year-old former custom cabinet-maker from Las Vegas is living his dream here. A lifelong fisherman, he turned his passion into a business—charter fishing…

The Truth About Teaching English in Costa Rica

The Truth About Teaching English in Costa Rica

Most people go to a tropical paradise to go on vacation. I chose to live in one. Sure it’s not without its challenges, but living in Costa Rica has taught me how to overcome them with grace and without getting bogged down in stress. This is one of the major reasons I choose to live in Costa Rica—Ticos (as Costa Ricans call themselves) possess the secret to true relaxation.

Our Blood Pressure is Lower and Our Tans are Better

“Our Blood Pressure is Lower and Our Tans are Better…”

Katie knew she needed a change, and I was comfortable picking up and exploring the world. The question was where to begin. We started right at home with a seven-month RV tour of the U.S. before traveling in Europe. Finally, with winter looming, we visited tropical Costa Rica. After looking around we settled in Ocotal, a small residential community on the south end of the Gulf of Papagayo.


High-End Furniture for Much Less in Costa Rica

Moving into a “furnished” rental is always a bit of a risk. You never know if you’re going to get cheap particle board pieces or whatever cast offs your landlord could scrounge up. But when we moved to our new home in Costa Rica, we were totally shocked. Everything from the bed frames to the dining table was solid, high-quality tropical hardwood.

Beer and Surfing in Costa Rica

Beer and Surfing in Costa Rica

“I first came to Costa Rica in 2001. Right after college, some friends and I—and my Dad—drove down in an old school bus and opened a surf camp on the northern Pacific coast,” says Joe. The camp has slowly grown into a pretty large operation, and that meant Joe was ready for a new challenge. The key to making it happen began when he struck up a friendship with fellow expat J.P. Cazedessus…


How to Retire at 41

“We did a lot of research on which country was the best fit for us. We narrowed it down to Costa Rica, Belize, Uruguay, and Ecuador. All seemed to have something we were looking for. In the end, Costa Rica won out, at least for now, because it’s a fairly easy flight back to the U.S., the cost of living is still reasonable, and the locals—called Ticos—are very accepting.”

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