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

Central America’s Retirement Gem: Stable, Easy, and Affordable Costa Rica

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, 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 $119,000 to buy and $500 a month to rent. And two-bedroom condo, a short walk to the beach on the central Pacific coast, in a lively  town will cost about $700 a month, and a similar property is selling for $165,000. 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

“What are the first steps that we should take in moving to Costa Rica?”

“What are the first steps that we should take in moving to Costa Rica?”

I would like to visit Costa Rica in the next two months I have no idea what I'm doing I want to retire there with my wife of 44 years we would like to rent what is our first step to do?Hi Steve,Your first step is to read and research as much about Costa Rica as you can before your trip. Find out all about the different regions to determine which ones appeal to you as far lifestyle, climate, and landscape. Although a small country, there are tremendous differences between regions and even towns. For example, a small...

Enjoying a Simpler Life in Costa Rica’s “Hidden” Valley

Enjoying a Simpler Life in Costa Rica’s “Hidden” Valley

For Steve and Nancy Riley…it’s paradise. They live on a little over 12 acres of land on a hillside, with panoramic views of the surrounding forest and farmland thanks to the elevation of 4,300 feet. A former coffee plantation, they’ve transformed their property into a botanical garden with walking trails and thousands of tropical plants like heliconias, bromeliads, 550 different species of orchids, and more. It’s Nancy’s vision and passion, and with a helper, she works hours a day in the garden.

Beware – These 3 Costa Rica Stories Might Change Your Life

Beware – These 3 Costa Rica Stories Might Change Your Life

By |
June 6, 2016

Long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches, on the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts…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…all these things, and much more, are drawing IL readers to Costa Rica.

Appreciating the Beauty in Our Back Yard in Costa Rica

Appreciating the Beauty in Our Back Yard in Costa Rica

There are many reasons my wife Jen and I love living in Costa Rica. We enjoy the slower pace compared to the busy lives we led in the U.S. We enjoy the pleasant temperatures provided by living in the mountains of the Central Valley. But mostly, we love the abundance of nature and wildlife that exists all around us. I enjoy taking a hike each morning. I usually do one of three hikes I have found that take me through coffee farms, over rivers, and up into the mountains that surround Poas Volcano, near where I live.

A Rewarding Life in Costa Rica for This Free-Spirited Expat

A Rewarding Life in Costa Rica for This Free-Spirited Expat

By |
May 4, 2016

“It reminds me of the small town I grew up in. The people are friendly and pleasant,” says Mel Rosiechuk, 70, of his new home in Costa Rica. Like many northerners, Mel, who came to Costa Rica in 2008 from his native Edmonton, Canada, was motivated to move here because of the weather…and soon discovered other benefits as well.

Costa Rica: No Spanish, No Problem

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 visit to our home in Costa Rica years ago she outdid herself. It’s a story we still laugh about when we’re all together. And I tell it to you so you see some of the struggles and embarrassment you might feel when practicing Spanish. But, more importantly, you’ll understand why it’s not such a big deal and learning Spanish will be a rewarding experience and connect you more closely to your new home.