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

Living the Beach Life on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

Living the Beach Life on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

When I wake up in the morning to the sounds of green parrots squawking and howler monkeys growling, I know it's going to be a hot day. There's no need to look up the forecast: Living on the North Pacific coast in Costa Rica means a longer dry season with persistent sunny days. It's been over six months since it has rained here in our little town of Playas del Coco so everyone is waiting for it to come to get some relief from the heat.

Escape the “Rocking Chair” Retirement in Costa Rica

Escape the “Rocking Chair” Retirement in Costa Rica

Don't get me wrong, I love Texas. I like the people, their independent attitude, and friendliness. But when I left for the Marines in the late '60s, I never planned on returning. Not because of the task at hand—I was just ready to experience what the world had to offer. My eventual return was strictly out of commitment to responsibilities and an available career. When I reached 60, in a moment of clarity, I became acutely aware of how fast time was passing.

Property Scout’s Advice: Don’t Let This Happen to You Overseas

Property Scout’s Advice: Don’t Let This Happen to You Overseas

Something strange happens when you’re buying property overseas. It happens to cautious folks, wary folks, even savvy folks that are seasoned pros when it comes to buying real estate. It’s something you need to watch out for. It’s getting caught up in the fine details of your contract…and, in doing so, losing sight of the forest for the trees.

The Surprising Answer to “Where Should I Live Overseas?”

The Surprising Answer to “Where Should I Live Overseas?”

I get a couple of emails a month like this from International Living readers: “I’ve been doing my research as you suggest. I know I want to make my move abroad, but no matter how many likely destinations I cross off my list, I still have too many to choose from. Where should I go?”

Never Wear a Coat Again in Costa Rica

Never Wear a Coat Again in Costa Rica

Beach Living
By |
April 11, 2015

For many years, Kathleen Evans and Steve Spada knew they wanted to live and retire abroad. So, they spent their free time researching locations, dreaming about the move, and even looking at real estate abroad. “Even before the internet,” Kathleen says, “we were subscribed to International Living and looking at properties when traveling overseas.” A few years ago, the couple got serious about selling their home in Austin and making a move. Kathleen had had enough of the rush and stress of the workaday life.

Five Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Scouting Trip to Costa Rica

Five Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Scouting Trip to Costa Rica

Daily Postcard
By |
December 25, 2014

When visiting Costa Rica during a scouting trip, your goal is to figure out which region suits you and your lifestyle best. Even though it’s a small country, about the size of West Virginia, there are many different climates and lifestyles in each area. You might also be trying to determine if the country as a whole is the best fit at all. So you owe it to yourself to get the most out of your journey by gathering as much useful information about your possible new home country. Here are some tips to make for an educational—and fun—scouting trip to Costa Rica.

A Perfect Spot in Costa Rica – No Matter Your Taste

A Perfect Spot in Costa Rica – No Matter Your Taste

Beach Living
By |
December 1, 2014

Costa Rica is a small country, about the size of West Virginia. Overall, you’ll find a low cost of living (many retired expat couples I meet live well on around $2,000 a month)…top-notch, low-cost medical care…friendly people—the national motto is Pura Vida, which translates to “life is good”…and bargain real estate—you can rent from $300 a month and up and find North America-style homes for $150,000 or less. But tiny Costa Rica has a tremendous variety of climates, lifestyles, and landscapes within its borders: bustling beach resorts, quiet fishing villages, high mountain towns, vast farmlands, looming volcanoes, lush rainforests, isolated rural areas…