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
- 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
My husband, Paul, and I were happy with our lives in the United States. I was 45 and Paul was 55 when we met. We lived in the Baltimore area and had stable jobs making a decent income. Sometime in 2007 we started to talk about retiring early and moving somewhere cheaper to live.
The Southern Zone is about three to four hours from Costa Rica’s capital, San José, depending on what part of the coast you’re going to. It starts roughly at the funky surfer town of Dominical and goes all the way to the border with Panama. Most expats, including everyone from retirees to business owners with young families, live between Dominical and Ojochal, a village in the jungle about 45 minutes south
I visited the Lake Arenal region a few weeks back with family from out of town. When people visit us here in Costa Rica, we usually end up there at some point. Just three hours by car from our home in the Central Valley (and the international airport), it’s an easy drive—very picturesque as you pass through the rain forest, farmland, and small villages of the countryside.
I worked in advertising and marketing for over 20 years and it was a career that for the most part, I enjoyed. But on a vacation in my 30s, I took a good hard look at what I wanted and liked to do in life. I stayed at a small retreat hotel and participated in a group travel experience.
I’ve moved many, many times within the United States. The longest I stayed anywhere was in Santa Cruz, California where I vowed to keep my two children in school with the same classmates from kindergarten through high school graduation. That kept me grounded for 20 years.
During my travels through Costa Rica in the last couple of years, I’ve met expats of all stripes, including many who decided to move overseas…and go into business at the same time. There are young families, middle-aged couples, single folks, and people of retirement age who definitely aren’t ready to quit working…all seeking opportunities in this little Central American gem.
Montezuma sits at the far southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. Still a working fishing village where locals go out daily on open boats called pangas, it has also become a destination for travelers and expats seeking a close-knit community on the beach.
Imagine your own floating home, one that takes you from port to port as you island-hop the Caribbean or delve into the history and culture of the Mediterranean… A yachting retirement is surprisingly affordable and for an increasing number of adventuresome folks it’s more than just an idle dream. In fact, in the right places it often costs a lot less than “traditional” retirement back home.
“To call something breathtaking around here is almost redundant,” says Chuck Mollenkopf. Pay a visit to the home Chuck, 66, shares with his wife Anna, 73, and you’ll probably agree with him. Just 10 minutes outside the town of Atenas, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, they enjoy priceless views from their spacious terrace.
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 with little pollution…it’s no wonder Costa Ricans are considered the “happiest people on the planet.”
Do you like the idea of a life at sea…but only in short doses? Sunset cruises, fishing excursions, day trips, and the occasional long weekend jaunts to anchor off a remote island…? The ocean can be your playground.
How can you make moving overseas easy? You really want to go. Everyone keeps talking about the lower cost of living…the warm, tropical climates…the lovely people…cocktails on the balcony overlooking the ocean.
Five months ago I spent two weeks scouting through Thailand—most of that was spent in Chiang Mai, for that is where the opportunity lies. This is a complicated market, as I explain in a special edition of Real Estate Trend Alert—ready to download here.
In this special edition, you’ll also discover… How to profit from inefficient markets… The condos in Medellin, Colombia that you should avoid… And lots more…
When I’m back visiting the U.S. and tell people I live in Costa Rica…I already know the picture they have in their mind. It’s a shoreline. First, the brilliant blue water…a strip of sand unmarred by footprints…a fringe of palm trees…then a rain forest with towering trees and lush vegetation alive with toucans and capuchin monkeys…and finally jagged green-covered mountains looming behind it all.
Michael Crowther has been working for the same company for years now. Last year he was able to persuade his employer to let him keep his job…but work remotely from Costa Rica. Now every weekend is an adventure in a tropical paradise. In the past month, the family went zip-lining in Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast…peered into the crater of Poas Volcano…sat in the hot springs in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano…and went snorkeling in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
Jen, a Wisconsin native, met and married her husband Greg in Dallas where Jen worked in commercial title insurance and Greg as the vice president for a company that handled paper and electronic discovery for law firms. They enjoyed city living, flashy clothing, and fine dining without much concern for cost.
Head out of San Jose, crest the cloud forest-covered mountains to the west of Costa Rica’s capital, and in about two hours you’re on the Caribbean coast. Another two hours or so south and you’re in the heart of the region. A pretty short ride…but it’s like a different world.
Costa Rica may seem to you like nothing more than a pricey fantasy. But in fact, you can own a lot here for only $40,000. And it’s in a spot that’s poised to boom.
Costa Rica has so much name recognition that almost everyone has some idea about this tropical paradise even if they’ve never been there. Jason Holland has not only been there, but lives there with his wife and family and scouts this country, a perennial expat favorite, relentlessly for International Living.
Michael Crowther has been working for the same company for years now. Last year he was able to persuade his employer to let him keep his job… but work remotely from Costa Rica.
Thanks to a climate that features warm weather year-round, a stable democratic government, excellent health care, low cost of living, and a laid-back lifestyle, Costa Rica has been welcoming expats looking for a pleasant place to live and retire for more than 30 years—and is still going strong.
In the jungle of Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, where monkeys howl from coconut palms, sloths lazily cross the street, and reggae wafts in the air… is a café you might expect to find in a neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Living or travelling abroad for extended periods of time is something most only dream of…and for good reason. It certainly was for me seven years ago. However as I write this, I am sitting in a high-rise in Panama, having just arrived from six weeks of sunshine and warm weather on the Pacific coast of Mexico.
This week we’ve explored the multitude of strategies that are available to create a passive and on-going income from simple e-books. Today we look at some of the actual results that e-book authors have had. The story of Margie Garrison is a great place to start.
I grew up in a really small town in the northern U.S., where cows probably outnumbered people 1,000 to 1 and I, alone, made up 20% of my graduating class. If it weren’t for having our own postal code, we probably would not have even been considered a town at all—more like a rest stop, maybe.
The Southern Zone, for me, is the nicest part of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast—it’s largely unspoiled because for a long time, it was difficult to get to. That’s why prices stayed low here while values went through the roof up north. Previously, it was about a nine-hour drive from the capital San Jose to the Southern Zone.
Everybody comes to the “Where overseas?” question with his own set of preferences. This one wants beach, that one cool weather. This woman wants to be four hours from home. And that guy is looking for a place to dock a sailboat.
When you’re pinpointing your ideal destination, start with list of what’s most important to you. And understand: No place is perfect. You have to prioritize. For a community she loves, “madame must-be-close-to-home” might just stretch her travel time to four-and-a-half hours.
It’s been a retirement haven for decades—one of the world’s most popular—and if you have ever visited Costa Rica, you know why. Living here means access to excellent and affordable health care, living costs of as little as $2,000 a month for a couple, including rent, and natural beauty at every turn.
In many ways, Costa Rica is the “veteran” among Central-American retirement destinations. North Americans and Europeans have been flocking to this little country for more than 30 years, attracted by the tropical climate; low cost of living; top-notch, affordable medical care; bargain real estate; and natural beauty.
White-sand beaches…majestic mountains…historic colonial cities in Latin America…small-town Europe…whatever you dream about can be your reality a lot faster, more affordably, and easily than you probably imagine.
In the popular imagination, it’s the great capitals of Europe that get the most attention. Tourists flock to Paris, Rome, Madrid, and London for the big-city flair, museums, and monuments. It’s the thing to do. And granted, you should seize any opportunity to stroll the Champs-Élysées on a beautiful spring evening or explore London’s international cuisine and regal parks.
A special edition of Real Estate Trend Alert—on my buy of the decade on the Riviera Maya. In this special edition, you’ll also discover…
What happens when unstoppable tourism demand meets limited land opportunities… The excellent protection offered by Brazilian “reciprocity” contracts (I just got a check for $20,000)… A new real estate investment trust in Ireland… The opportunity in retirement care in Ecuador… Incentives to invest in Panama City’s 341-year-old historic quarter…
During our months of preparation, we set about determining the criteria we needed to choose a location. The criteria we chose for ourselves initially were: a good health care system at a much lower cost; a stable government; not wanting a car, a walkable location with a good transportation system; good infrastructure; a Spanish-speaking country because Mike already spoke some but wanted to become proficient; a warm climate year round; and, of course, a lower cost of living.
I live in the heart of Costa Rica’s most populated region, the Central Valley. In fact, I live in the Gran Area Metropolitana (GAM), the name given to the capital, San Jose, and surrounding suburbs. The Valley has about 70% of the country’s population. It’s a center of culture and commerce. And the GAM, which contains towns popular with expats like Escazu, Santana, and Heredia, is honestly a sprawling urban area with traffic and noise.
In exchange for looking after the house, garden, pets, and pool, my husband Michael and I have saved around $24,000 in accommodation costs. Whether you want a dream vacation or to sample a retirement destination, the trick to being successful is to stand out from the crowd. Competition is fierce, with many homeowners receiving 20 to 60 responses to their “housesitter needed” advertisements. Here’s how you can join this group of savvy travelers and score the best housesitting gigs around the world.
Of all the places I’ve visited in Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula is the one that feels most like the frontier. It’s a somewhat isolated region, with mile after mile of untouched coastline along the blue Pacific, craggy hills, vast cattle farms in the interior, and mazes of what are often dirt roads running through forests and fields. It’s also one of the world’s Blue Zones, where researchers have found that locals live longer on average due to a combination of diet, climate, and lifestyle.
When moving to Costa Rica, many newly-arrived expats decide to forgo having their own car. In retirement on a limited budget they want to eliminate the added expense of maintenance and fuel for a vehicle. Cars can be expensive to purchase in country and import from North America too, so that’s another reason to go car-less.
When moving abroad, renting a place to stay is an attractive option that offers a lot of advantages, whether you’re headed to Costa Rica, Malaysia, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Ireland…or any country. If you plan to buy or build a home eventually, renting allows you to investigate a region and/or community…or several…before you put down roots. You don’t want to be stuck in a neighborhood, region, or home you don’t like.
There are many reasons people move to Costa Rica: low cost of living, high-quality health care; the warm weather year-round; the friendly people; the established expat communities…the list goes on. But in my case there were certain factors that attracted me to Costa Rica many years ago as a tourist and convinced me to eventually make the move down. The first is the…