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
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

My Favorite Place in Costa Rica

My Favorite Place in Costa Rica

Expat-Advice
By |
June 19, 2014

Yet, we moved away—first to Tamarindo, a beach town on the northern Pacific coast, because we kind of missed the beach, and then to Escazú, a suburb of the capital, San José, to be closer to the hospital there when my youngest son had a medical issue. We liked both places, especially Tamarindo with its super laid-back atmosphere and close-knit expat community. And sunset drinks on the beach with friends, of course.

Laid-Back, Affordable Living on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Laid-Back, Affordable Living on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

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.

Buy in Costa Rica’s Overlooked But Most Beautiful Region – for $37,000

Buy in Costa Rica’s Overlooked But Most Beautiful Region – for $37,000

Investing
By |
April 29, 2014

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.

We Spent a Year Exploring Latin America to Find Our Ideal Retirement Haven

We Spent a Year Exploring Latin America to Find Our Ideal Retirement Haven

Beach Living
By |
April 12, 2014

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.

Ten Tips for Renting a Home Overseas

Ten Tips for Renting a Home Overseas

Expat-Advice
By |
April 3, 2014

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.

How the Seymours Retired at 41 and 44 in Costa Rica

How the Seymours Retired at 41 and 44 in Costa Rica

Expat-Advice
By |
March 18, 2014

Opening a business, moving to a small town, changing careers, heading out on the road in an RV...they considered all these options. But once they started reading about retiring overseas, it seemed the way to go. And Costa Rica quickly rose to the top of their list of destinations because it's an easy flight back to Dallas and there's good infrastructure, healthcare, and Internet access. And the climate where they live in the Central Valley is perfect year-round.