Is It Crazy to Love Costa Rica?

When we arrived at the airport two days ago, a sign posted above the escalator leading to the customs area read “Welcome to Costa Rica: the Happiest Place on Earth.”

That could very well be true, I thought. I mean, come on… how could anyone not be happy here? Today the sun is shining brightly and there is not a cloud in the sky. It’s about 75 degrees, I’d guess. A wisp of a fragrant breeze wafts over the gorgeous tropical plants and flowers where hundreds of butterflies flit and flutter. Even the birds are happy, by the sounds of their happy chatter.

Ah, Costa Rica. I’m falling in love again…

Like my friend and colleague Jason Holland says, much of the appeal of this country has to do with the people and the “Pura Vida” lifestyle you’ll find here. (How can you not love a country with “monkey crossing” signs along its roadways?)

I’m Suzan Haskins, and I’ll be your eyes and ears here at International Living’s 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference, taking place this week in San Jose.

The aforementioned Jason Holland kicked things off for us today by explaining why Costa Rica is such a popular destination for foreign retirees. Yes, it’s affordable, the weather is excellent, and health care is both (excellent and affordable). But the #1 reason Costa Rica is such a great place to live, Jason says, is because of the people themselves.

Why Costa Ricans Are the Happiest People on Earth…

No matter how safe, welcoming and wonderful Costa Rica is, Jason said today, “When my wife and I told our families we were moving to Costa Rica, they thought we were crazy.”

And maybe that’s happened to you… Maybe you’ve told your friends and family you are thinking about retiring overseas and they’ve given you that cockeyed “are you crazy?” look.

Well, I guarantee they would change their tune if they heard what Costa Rican Roger Petersen explained today.

“The reason Costa Rica has become such a well-established retirement destination, “ he said, “is because, as organizations like International Living and AARP have written, it offers a mild climate, prosperity, a high literacy rate, excellent health care, and a stable government.”

Roger went on to tell us that in 1948, after a civil war, Costa Ricans voted to abolish the country’s army. Since then, instead of an army, funding has gone into health care and education…

Crazy? No one in the audience today seemed to think so, as this little nugget received the day’s heartiest round of applause.

And Jason Holland’s family no longer thinks he is crazy for moving here, either. After all, combine all Costa Rica’s affordability and health care offerings with lifestyle, weather, family support, and the world’s happiest people… and living here doesn’t seem crazy at all. It just makes sense.

(By the way, no one is making up this happiness stuff… The fact that Costa Ricans “report the highest life satisfaction and have the second-highest average life expectancy of the Americas (second only to Canada)” has been qualified and quantified by sociologists from the New Economics Foundation.)

How to Go About Making Yourself Happy in Costa Rica

As I mentioned, we also heard today from Roger Petersen, an attorney here in Costa Rica. (If he’s not in your offshore rolodex he should be.)

Roger shared lots of information today (with more to come tomorrow), about navigating Costa Rica’s legal system—specifically how to go about getting your legal residence documents. (Quick fast fact: every Costa Rican is required to carry a picture ID…and the number on that is the same as the number on his or her driver’s license, passport, and so on. What an easy-to-implement, problem-solving idea!)

Roger says that if you plan to live in Costa Rica, the best plan of attack is to get resident status. (Don’t confuse this with citizenship—you needn’t give up your home citizenship to live legally in Costa Rica.)

What’s the difference between a pensionado and a rentista visa? Roger explained. How do you know which visa is best for you? “Go for the easiest one,” he said. And he explained all of this is such straightforward terms…

By the way, yes you can get Costa Rican citizenship. And it’s easy to do. How? Roger offered up all the details about this, too.

Why Costa Rica? So Many Reasons, Including Gorgeous Beaches, Perfect Weather, Affordability…and Excellent World-Class (and Yes, Low-Cost) Health Care

There’s a lot more to share…and more to come in the next couple of days. This is the most solution-packed seminar we’ve ever held in Costa Rica. Today, in fact, even I got in on the act…

I have a special connection to Costa Rica, you see. More than 16 years ago, my best friend (and fellow International Living editor Dan Prescher) and I were married in Costa Rica. We spent two weeks driving around the country without an itinerary…something that, I didn’t know at the time, drove my new husband crazy.

Some would say I’ve been driving Dan crazy ever since. But I prefer to think that I’ve introduced him to the thrill of spontaneity and adventure.

In any case, Dan and I have spent a lot of time in Costa Rica over the last decade and a half…and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. So it was my pleasure to be able to introduce the audience today to “my” Costa Rica, a welcoming land where people are free to be who they are and do what they want.

In many ways Costa Rican culture is very similar to that in North America. But there are some dos and don’ts and ins and outs to be aware of. What’s most important to Ticos…more so, even, than money or home? Who to tip…how much to tip…when to tip and when not to… how to be perceived as more “local” than “foreign”…and why that should matter…

As Jason Holland mentioned before I did, that the easygoing lifestyle is one of the reasons why as many as 11,000 expats live full-time in Costa Rica. There is much to enjoy about Costa Rica and you can bet that at this conference we’re digging deep into all the pluses and, yes, even the minuses. (Some areas of the country have better weather, and receive less rainfall, than others. Jason took a map out and explained that, and much more, today.)

Your No-Risk Way To Learn What We’ve Learned This Week

There’s so much more I want to share with you. But there are just far too many details to put into an e-mail. (And there’s much more to come tomorrow and the next day.)

But… there’s a way that you can get every bit of the important information, solutions, and insights from International Living’s Fast-Track Costa Rica: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference 2013.

You can gain all the most important benefits from this event…

All of the things we’re learning here…the most popular expat communities where you can live large for very little (and with a built-in support group)…how to navigate the Costa Rican legal system and easily and safely purchase real estate…where to find deals on rental properties…how (and when) to ship your belongings here…where to find the best car insurance, and most importantly of all, how to navigate this country’s excellent health care system…

If you take note of nothing else that I write here today, take note of this: If you move to Costa Rica and obtain residence here, you will be able to (be required to, in fact) participate in the world-class public health care system, called Caja. The cost is determined by your income but generally only runs $30 to $90 per person per month. Can you imagine? And that monthly fee covers everything, from prescriptions to doctor visits to testing to surgeries! And most importantly, there are no exclusions for age or pre-existing conditions.

You’ll learn all about Caja, as well as about Costa Rica’s first-rate (and also low-cost) private health care options. Plus, you can access countless other pointers, tips and contact info that you can use right away…

We’re putting together a complete package of nearly everything that’s happening at this event. We’re making audio recordings of all 37 of the presentations.

We’re also making copies of the handouts, PowerPoint and visual presentations. And you get the complete dossier we give to each attendee when they showed up here in San Jose for our Fast-Track Costa Rica: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference 2013. Everything but a rum-punch cocktail. (And if we could figure out how to send you that, we would!)

We call it our 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica Package. And we guarantee it will help you fast track your plans of moving to…or investing in… Costa Rica.

Editor’s Note: The full price to attend this sold-out event was $1,095—but you can secure yourself a copy of the 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica Package for only $199… a mere fraction of what attendees paid to join us here in San Jose, Costa Rica. So if you’re serious about tapping into the opportunities still available in this great little country, I urge you to reserve your 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica Package now.

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