Retired Early in Costa Rica on Less Than $2,000 a Month

“Everyone has a different reason for leaving their home country,” says Gloria Yeatman. “Ours had to do with the fact that we wanted to retire early.”

Gloria and her husband, Paul, met and married later in life. He’s a decade older than she is…so they wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible enjoying life together.

“To be honest,” she told us, “America is no place to get old. There just seems to be a lack of civility…especially in the way senior citizens are treated.”

So Paul and Gloria looked for better options. They wanted fun and adventure in their retirement. And yes, a big part of their retirement wish list had to do with finding that perfect place…where they would feel comfortable, welcome, and have fun…all within a budget.

They spent countless hours doing their research and due diligence. And eventually they settled in a medium-sized university town in Costa Rica’s Central Valley.

There, the climate is so ideal that they don’t need heat or air conditioning (saving on utility bills). It’s close to the beach (about an hour) and just over 30 minutes to San Jose and all its amenities, including the country’s best hospitals and medical care. San Jose is the country’s shopping Mecca, too, with everything from international big-box stores to upscale department stores.

Paul and Gloria say they adore the town where they settled. “It’s a real Tico town,” Paul says. “There are about 80,000 Costa Ricans and 300 of us expats. And that’s just the way we like it.”

Best of all, they can easily live here—very comfortably—on a low monthly budget. These two track expenses down to the very penny…and they shared their most recent expense sheet with us today. In July, it showed, they spent just over $1,700—on everything.

“Our goal was to retire on $2,000 a month or less,” Gloria and Paul say. “And you can see we’re doing just that.”

And make no mistake that $2,000 includes all their expenses: $500 to rent their lovely two-bedroom home, car expenses, and their monthly health insurance payment. (As I explained yesterday, Caja is Costa Rica’s world-class public health care system that generally costs about $30 to $90 per person per month. Yes, foreign residents can participate, and the monthly fee covers everything, from prescriptions to doctor visits to testing to surgeries. Best of all, there are no exclusions for age or pre-existing conditions.)

You, Too, Can Quickly, Easily, and Affordably Find Your Piece of Costa Rica Paradise…I’m Suzan Haskins and I’m reporting from International Living’s 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference.

This has been such an eventful day with so many insights shared that despite the urge we all had to play hooky in the Costa Rican sunshine, our conference room remained full to the limit.

Today we drilled down into the nitty-gritty details that can make or break your experience here. The critically important stuff. (Of course, there have also been some very entertaining moments.)

But it’s the need-to-know stuff that kept everybody firmly in their chairs. For instance, most of the world (like Costa Rica) functions according to the civil law system. But not so the U.S. or Canada where we adhere to the common law system. The result is that legal issues in Costa Rica don’t always proceed in a familiar way. And that can present problems. But it doesn’t have to, as we soon learned…

The Costa Rica Destinations That Make the Most Sense for You…

We also learned about the top places in Costa Rica that make the most sense for expats to live: to rent, buy real estate, become part of a community and have access to all the amenities that make life comfortable and enjoyable.

Are you a pioneer? Then you may be interested in an area along the country’s Caribbean coast that’s just been designated for a billion-dollar investment. Looking for opportunity? You’ll find it here, says Pathfinder International real estate expert Margaret Summerfield.

Want to live in a lush Pacific Coast region where you can buy a lot overlooking the Pacific or in the jungle a stone’s throw from the beach? We learned where the best deals are.

We learned where to find a $17,500 lot on a grassy hillside with a view of a gorgeous big blue lake…an ocean-view lot above the popular resort town of Jaco for just $59,000…where to buy a two-bedroom, two-bath condo near modern luxury malls and hospitals for just $79,000…

But rent before you buy. That’s our mantra and we had an entire session today on rental properties. Local expert Hannah Fletcher explained what you need to know if you’re going to rent a home or apartment in Costa Rica. The laws are a little different so you need to be sure to understand your rights and obligations, and Hannah shared her own hard-won advice about how to negotiate your rental contract. (Her tips will save you time, money, and loads of frustration.)

But only a portion of today’s discussions were about real estate. And nope, no one was trying to sell anything. They were simply explaining how to properly and safely buy or rent a property in Costa Rica—where, what, how much, and how.

We also learned about a very interesting investment opportunity. Knut Anderson of Swissmetal Inc. recommends that in today’s murky financial environment, you should have metals as part of your investment portfolio. And not just silver, gold, and platinum but indium, gallium, hafnium, bismuth, tantalum, tellurium, rhenium, and so on…

He also explained how to convert your IRA into a self-directed IRA in which you can own anything you—including property. Nearly every hand in the audience went up when Knut asked who wanted more information about that.

And yes, you can get your hands on this information, too. Just keep reading…

Thankfully, with all the ways we discovered to make (and save) money today, U.S. tax expert Nick Hodges was on hand to explain what you should do to keep dear old Uncle Sam happy.

“I teach avoidance rather than evasion,” he said. “Evasion gets you free room and board. I can help you avoid paying taxes.” And explain how, he did.

Tax attorney Doug Hendler also participated via video to counsel his fellow Canadians about their tax issues.

Nothing to Fear (and Much to Gain), But Proceed With Eyes Open… Learn How Here

One of the highlights of the day was Margaret’s presentation that included tips and strategies for protecting your real estate investment abroad. She’s been living and working in Latin America for seven years now…and she’s kept her eagle eye on the Costa Rica market for even longer. No one knows the ins and outs of the real estate market here better than she does.

Her most valuable advice came in the form of her “11 Tips” list.

(Word to the wise: Do not buy or rent in Costa Rica without these tips and strategies.)

Here’s just a sample of some of the words of wisdom she shared:

  • If you do nothing else, get the right attorney working on your behalf. Margaret explained how to choose one, the four traits they absolutely must have—and where to find one that meets all these criteria.
  • What you don’t know about title insurance can come back to bite you. What issues are not covered by title insurance? Margaret outlined six exclusions—knowing what these are can save you from a world of hurt.
  • There are three issues that absolutely must be addressed in your sales contract.  And five steps that must not be neglected during your title search.
  • Did you know that the number of legal permits required for real estate projects in practically every country has recently increased? What are the five permits, approvals and processes you must verify? Margaret covered it all… She explained how to perform your own due diligence on any real estate agent or developer you meet, how to ensure you won’t get the shaft from your neighbors, how to protect your escrow money, and much more.

How Can You Get Your Hands On these Tips and Secrets?

As you can see, there’s far too much being shared here at the conference for me to include in an e-mail. (You’ll hear from me again tomorrow…but I’m just one person. There are 37 presentations here—it’s hard to keep up.)

If you’ve an interest in Costa Rica…but you couldn’t be here…that doesn’t mean you have to miss out.

There’s a way for you to quickly get up to speed with every one of the solutions, secrets, good-value ideas, money-making techniques, wealth-protection details, retirement recommendations, real estate advice and contacts, and everything else our attendees are gathering here live at the International Living Fast-Track Costa Rica Conference

Today, Costa Rican attorney Roger Petersen also explained how to legally structure your Costa Rica property purchase. There are several ways to hold title to your property, Roger says, and he explained how to determine the best route for your specific situation and needs.  Your tax liability will be impacted by the route you take, so, it’s important to get things right from the start.

And Barry Wilson of Ship Costa Rica shared information about how to easily, safely, and affordably ship your household goods (including your car) from the U.S. He explained why you cannot get an accurate price quote from a name-brand moving company in the U.S.

Your No-Risk way to Learn What We’re Learning This Week

Want to learn more? Here’s how you can:

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.

You can have all of it… and for a fraction of what the folks here in person spent to be in this room with us in Costa Rica…

You can have all the most important information and benefits from this event…

All of the things we’re learning here: how to find a rental…a true real estate bargain…what to look for in a local attorney…how to protect your nest egg though tax planning…

You could hear Gill Phelan talk about Costa Rica’s beautiful Caribbean coast…Or see Jason Holland’s photos of the Lake Arenal area (one of my favorite Costa Rica destinations, I’ll admit)…

…Plus you need to get your hands on the countless pointers, tips and contact info that you can use right away…

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.

We call it our 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica PackageAnd 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.