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

Playa Negra: An Off-The-Beaten Path Paradise for Surfers and Foodies

Playa Negra: An Off-The-Beaten Path Paradise for Surfers and Foodies

Playa Negra’s town (officially the pueblo of Los Pargos—but hardly anyone calls it that) on Costa Rica’s northwest Pacific coast is not typically on most people’s radar when they make plans to explore Costa Rica. It barely shows up as a dot on a map, and the journey along rutted dirt roads keeps away some of the less ambitious travelers...

Best Places to Live in Costa Rica: Five Top Expat Havens

Best Places to Live in Costa Rica: Five Top Expat Havens

For decades Costa Rica has been among the world’s premier retirement destinations. It still is. Chuck and his wife Anna launched their Pura Vida lifestyle in 2012. They sought a mild climate, better healthcare, amazing views, and lots to do…and all at a lower cost of living. You’ll find established and welcoming expat communities all across the country. It’s easy to make friends to explore the jungle with, or to share an ice-cold, two-buck Pilsen beer while watching the sun set from a beach.

Enjoy a Laidback Vibe on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Enjoy a Laidback Vibe on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica is a laidback place. The unofficial national motto is Pura Vida, after all. Directly translated, it means Pure Life. But perhaps more accurate would be Life Is Good. This carefree attitude is most felt in the coastal areas. And of those, nowhere more than the southern Caribbean coast...

Teaching English and Living Like a Local in Small-Town Costa Rica

Teaching English and Living Like a Local in Small-Town Costa Rica

Like some of you, I've been reading International Living magazine for years, dreaming of the day I would find myself enjoying life in another country.In September 2016, I found the courage to take that leap. Barely one month after my 59th birthday, I traveled solo to Costa Rica. My plan was to try living there for a year...

How Much is it to Buy Real Estate in Ojochal, Costa Rica

How Much is it to Buy Real Estate in Ojochal, Costa Rica

Real Estate
By |
June 28, 2018

On a clear day you can see all the way to Guanacaste province," says Overton Pratt when he describes the view from his home in Ojochal, Costa Rica. Overton is originally from southern California, and wife Michelle's origins are in Chicago. In 2006, they travelled to Costa Rica for a four-month visit...