Costa Rica has been a destination for retirees and other expats going on four decades now.
The benefits that drew those first pioneers all those years ago are still very much part of life in this little Central American gem. It ticks a lot of boxes.
You can’t beat the weather, especially when you’ve just endured another chilly North American winter.
It never gets cold in Costa Rica—this is the tropics. Sure, it’s quite warm and humid on the coasts, especially in or near the rainforest. But it beats shoveling snow—I’ll take white sand any day. And if you’d rather be in a mild climate—t-shirt weather all the time—you can enjoy the perennial spring in the Central Valley and Lake Arenal regions.
The weather means you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings just about any day of the year. From hills blanketed in coffee plantations to soaring volcanoes…wild, wave-swept beaches to thick jungles alive with toucans, capuchin monkeys, and more…you have it in Costa Rica. And you don’t have to travel to see it. In this country, the natural world surrounds you and wildlife sightings will be common in your backyard.
As you get older, healthcare becomes more and more important. And you don’t have to make do with less here. In fact, with insurance, Medicare, and medical care in general in a state of chaos in the U.S., Costa Rica is refreshingly simple. As a resident, you’re eligible for complete care—from doctor’s visits to surgeries—in the government-run system for a low monthly fee based on your income. No pre-existing condition or age exclusions. The equipment is modern, and doctors (many of whom speak English) and other providers are trained in the latest techniques.
The savings extend to other areas. Cost of living does depend on lifestyle. But retired couples can live well on $2,000 to $2,500 a month—many spend much less. That covers rent, a car, groceries, dining out, utility bills…everything. You can still live on Social Security in Costa Rica. And the good value real estate helps you save as well.
On the northern Pacific coast—very popular with beach-loving expats who like to spend happy hour with their toes in the sand—you can find condos within walking distance of the beach for well under $100,000. One recent listing featured a two-bedroom condo for $73,500. And you can rent it for $550 a month. Head inland to Lake Arenal—with its rural feel and waters undisturbed by boats—and you can have a home with a panoramic view of the lake for $159,000.
That’s just the start of what makes Costa Rica so appealing. But what’ll make you fall in love—and keep you there—is the people.
There’s a saying here: “Pura Vida.” It basically means “Life is Good.” And it’s a motto that Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves, live by. They’re friendly, warm, welcoming…and happy. It’s an attitude that’ll quickly rub off on you as an expat.