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

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.

In Pictures: 5 Reasons to Move to Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

In Pictures: 5 Reasons to Move to Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

Slideshow
By |
August 6, 2017

Located about three hours northwest of San José, Costa Rica's capital, the Arenal region has been drawing eco-minded travelers in search of opportunities in wildlife watching, jungle hiking, water sports, and other activities for decades. But in recent years it's become much more than a tourist destination, attracting an increasing number of expats interested in making permanent homes here. The area is dominated by the 33-square-mile Lake Arenal. Also, looming above the landscape at the east end of the lake, is the 5,479-foot Volcan Arenal, a cone-shaped volcano that is active but not dangerous

Costa Rica’s Simple Pleasures are the Finer Things in Life

Costa Rica’s Simple Pleasures are the Finer Things in Life

If you’ve done any reading at all about Costa Rica, you’ve almost certainly come across the phrase Pura Vida. Literally it means “pure life,” but it’s practical meaning can be a bit tough to nail down. It can be a greeting, it can be a response and replace “you’re welcome,” it can replace “cheese,” when someone is about to snap a group photo and everyone is holding up their peace signs and thumbs-up.

What I Love About My Portable Career in Small-Town Costa Rica

What I Love About My Portable Career in Small-Town Costa Rica

What I love about what I do is that I can work from home. Or, really, I can work anywhere there is an internet connection. I don't have to commute. I have the freedom to be anywhere in the world. For the past seven years, home has been the small town of Atenas in Costa Rica's Central Valley. Although in all, I've been living in Costa Rica about 18 years.

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.

Working Remotely Gives Me the Opportunity to Explore Costa Rica

Working Remotely Gives Me the Opportunity to Explore Costa Rica

I've always had a special love for Costa Rica. Having family there meant I grew up coming down to visit every year over Christmas vacation or in the summer. It's a place that has always been a part of me and my life. So, when I decided the career I was in wasn't for me, I left my suburban life in Pennsylvania behind and moved to Costa Rica.

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