Despite interest from investors and well-heeled vacation home owners, you can still find good-value real estate. Prices start at $150,000 for simple digs, going up to multi-millions for the luxury palaces favored by wealthy vacation home owners. So it may not be dirt cheap. But with ocean-view homes starting at the low $200,000s, prices are a quarter of what you’d pay for similar property on the southern California coast, for example.
Costa Rica has a lot to recommend it: low cost of living, bargain real estate, the "Pura Vida" lifestyle, great weather, fabulous beaches...the list goes on and on. But one of the biggest benefits for retirees, business owners, and other expats is the health care. In a time of rising costs in the U.S., not to mention a contentious political debate over insurance and medical care, Costa Rica's take on the issue is refreshing.
There are a lot of practical advantages to living in Costa Rica that I've discovered during my two years here. A big one for my family is the savings on medical care. When my son was born in June of 2012, we paid just $3,000 for the birth at a private hospital, including all the doctors' fees and an overnight hospital stay. That's cash, no insurance. We would have paid $15,000 to $20,000 in the U.S. When, at six months, the baby developed some health issues, testing and treatment was cheap too.
"We chose Guanacaste [the name of the province] because of the proximity to the beach, the warm water, and the weather," says Becky, who, thanks to a Costa Rican mother, was familiar with a lot of the country. "You don't get as much rainfall as other areas of Costa Rica. And the weather is very predictable. From December to April there is no rain, and the rest of the year it mostly rains in the afternoon. You can do things outdoors year-round."
Costa Rica has been a top retirement destination for more than three decades. An estimated 20,000 North Americans call it home today (more if you count part-timers and “snowbirds” who come for North American winters). And it continues to be a favorite of retirees for the same reasons it always has been: low cost of living; ideal climate; natural beauty; a stable government; friendly locals; safety; easy residency requirements; and bargain real estate.
There I was 140 feet up a tree in the rainforest of Costa Rica's Southern Zone. I'd hoisted myself up using mountaineering gear--it took about 30 minutes. Now, as we rested dangling in our harnesses, we watched a trio of toucans of one species eating nuts on a nearby tree and then a pair from another species fly right by our heads.
Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America. The country’s public and private sectors are constantly being upgraded. Despite the building of new hospitals, new equipment and the improvements in staff training, costs remain low in comparison with the U.S.
It’s like it was fate that brought Sandy, 69, and Chip Bublik, 75, to their home on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast nine years ago. First, their step-son offered to give them land to build a home. Second, Sandy had just retired and the going-away gift from her employer—she was a receptionist at an ad agency—covered the cost of a container to ship their household goods to Costa Rica.
"I knew the first day that someday I would live here," recalls Dale, who's now in her 50s. "It was the way I felt. It was beautiful. And I felt like I was..
A lot of my friends here in Costa Rica, as well as many people I’ve met in my travels, are moving to Atenas. More than a half-dozen couples and families in the last few months have arrived in this small town in the Central Valley.