Costa Rica Fast Facts

Costa Rica Tamarindo Costa Rica

Population: 4,872,543

Capital City: San José

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

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.

central-valley
Central Valley, Costa Rica

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 you become a legal resident. Overall, expats in Costa Rica pay a fraction of what they did back home for healthcare.

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.

Find Out More From Our Costa Rica Editor

From the Archives of Costa Rica

Buy For $159,000 in This Up-and-Coming Beach Town

Buy For $159,000 in This Up-and-Coming Beach Town

Playa Potrero is a small village on Costa Rica's northern Pacific Coast, nestled nearly equidistant between the more popular tourist hubs of Playas del Coco and Playa Tamarindo. Potrero represents a growing, full-time expat community and real estate opportunities that still represent great value beach living.

“We’re Living Our Own Version of Paradise on Costa Rica’s Coast”

“We’re Living Our Own Version of Paradise on Costa Rica’s Coast”

Lance and Mary Miller both grown up in small towns, he in Iowa and she in Maryland. "We appreciated the simplicity and intimacy of living in a small community," Mary says. Mary had been a nurse for many years and Lance had a career in the military and lived in several countries.

A Friendly Mountain Town With a Close-Knit Expat Community

A Friendly Mountain Town With a Close-Knit Expat Community

Daily Postcard
By |
August 17, 2017

The country mountain town of Atenas in Spanish-speaking Costa Rica seems an unlikely place to find a free library of not just hundreds but thousands of books in English, French, German, and Italian. It gives you a little glimpse into the international mix of the thriving expat community here.

Brasilito: A Funky Beach Town with Rent From $200 a Month

Brasilito: A Funky Beach Town with Rent From $200 a Month

The first day of my stay in Playa Brasilito dawned brightly and I couldn’t wait to get out on the white-sand beach. It was quite early and I found no one else strolling the stretch of more than a mile—the beach was often virtually deserted throughout my stay—but in the distance three horses carried riders into a mangrove-lined path.

Video: First World Convenience in Affordable Jacó

Video: First World Convenience in Affordable Jacó

Jacó, on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, is a great place to live. It offers many of the conveniences of a First World country, while maintaining the simplicity, pace, and charm of life in a developing country. As a part-time expat, I split my time between Costa Rica and the U.S.

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