The Richest Country on Earth (It’s Not Where You Think)

Today, Costa Rica is the “richest country on earth.” That’s the conclusion we’ve reached over the three days of discussion we had at the 2013 Fast-Track Costa Rica: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference.

Nowhere else can you live as well, as long, or as happily…or as easily. As many expats and experts alike will tell you, if you’re looking to retire overseas, Costa Rica may be the very easiest country in which to do that.

It wasn’t always easy, though, for Christina Spilsbury and her husband, Richard. Twenty-five years ago they moved from New York to Tamarindo, a small town on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific Coast. They talked about how rustic Tamarindo was back then.

“We didn’t even get telephone service until 1996,” Richard said. The roads were awful, there were only a couple of restaurants, it was difficult to get supplies of any kind…”

But today they enjoy all the modern amenities anyone could want or need. Modern supermarkets, reliable, high-speed internet, a plethora of restaurants serving a selection of international fare…even a brand-new modern hospital has opened nearby.

And yes, the downside is that more people have found their ways to Tamarindo and its gorgeous stretch of sundrenched beach. Still, Christina and Richard say, despite all the modern comforts and conveniences, life in this beachside resort community remains affordable.

How much does it cost Christina Spilsbury and her husband to live in Tamarindo, one of the country’s nicest beach resort towns? Less than $2,000 a month, according to the budget numbers they shared today.

I’m Suzan Haskins, reporting to you about the San Jose, Costa Rica and International Living’s Fast-Track Costa Rica: Lifestyle and Opportunity Conference.

During coffee breaks and cocktail parties, I found myself talking to many would-be expats. They came from far-flung corners of the U.S. and Canada and even from as far away as Germany to learn about the pluses and minuses of living in Costa Rica.

All of them are serious about doing their research…and every one of them shares a desire to pump a little fun and adventure into their lives. All have different reasons for being in Costa Rica.

Some just want a change… Some are worried about their financial futures… Some have health concerns…

As one man explained, it’s not health issues that are killing him…it’s health-care costs in the U.S.

At home in the States, he said, he’s covered by Medicare. And that’s not all bad. “But every time I go see a doctor,” he says, “I have to pay partial costs for the tests they’re always doing. It ends up costing me more than $150 every time.”

And if something major were to happen, it could be a big financial bite.

So he and his wife are looking to move to Costa Rica, where their overall cost of living will be less…especially when it comes to health care.

By the way, this gentleman and his wife are both in their early 70s. They learned at the conference that if they become residents of Costa Rica, they will both automatically qualify for Caja, Costa Rica’s public health-insurance system.

Costa Rican residents (including foreigners) cannot be excluded from the public health system because of age or pre-existing conditions.

As my new friend explained, “If we want to, we can pay out of pocket to see the very best doctors in this country, and still save at least one third on what we’re paying in the States.”

And if anything catastrophic happens, their medical care in Costa Rica will be 100% covered through Caja.

As for the quality of health care available in Costa Rica, several speakers mentioned that the World Health Organization has ranked Costa Rica in this category higher than the U.S.

Now, of course there are pluses and minuses to everything in life. And there are some important things you need to know about Costa Rica’s public health-care system.

In some cases, there are reasons you may want to augment your public health care benefits with a private insurance policy.

Luckily, we had Dr. Eduardo Loyola on hand today to explain all the details of both the private and public health care systems in Costa Rica. When you hear what he has to say, you’ll be better able to determine the perfect options for you. But whatever you choose, your costs will be far, far less than you’d pay in the U.S.

Over the last two-and-a-half days of this conference, we’ve learned so many details about living in Costa Rica that it’s hard to keep track of it all. (Luckily, though, there is an easy way to do just that, which I’ll tell you about in a moment.)

First, though, an explanation as to why we here are calling Costa Rica the “richest” country on earth. Here’s what the experts say:

5 Things That Contribute to a “Rich” Life in Costa Rica:

  •  This country is rich in biodiversity, which means GREAT weather. It offers just about every landscape, temperature, and topography (except snowscapes and who wants that?). From the cool temperate climate of the capital city and suburbs of San Jose to mountain cloud forests, pristine volcanic lakes, lush rainforests, and the world’s most beautiful beaches…you’ll find it all in Costa Rica.
  • It’s one of the “greenest, cleanest” countries in the world with little pollution and lots of clean water and fresh air. You will be healthier here, I can practically guarantee it. (Costa Rica is one of the only countries in the world to actually reverse deforestation and a staggering 99% of Costa Rica’s energy comes from renewable sources.)
  • As I mentioned yesterday, Costa Ricans are rich with happiness. According to sociologists, Ticos (as the Costa Ricans call themselves) are the happiest people on the planet.
  • Maybe Costa Ricans are so happy because they have all the modern amenities anyone could want or need—modern shopping malls, world-class hospitals, reliable high-speed Internet, you name it…
  • And, importantly…despite the fact that this is one of the world’s most peaceful countries, with one of the world’s longest-standing and most stable democracies, Costa Rica has no military.  Instead of spending money on wars and armies, they spend it on education (adult literacy is practically 100%) and on universal health care, which, as I mentioned, every resident qualifies for. (Free health care is provided to 86.8% of the population!)

But, of course, there’s more. Costa Rica (which literally means the “rich coast”) isn’t called one of the world’s richest countries in the world for just these reasons. Despite all the fortune of Costa Rica’s land, culture, and people, it may just be a place that allows you to live a fuller, richer life…on so many levels.

 4 More Things That Will Contribute to Your Own Personal Richer Life in Costa Rica:

  1.  Low taxes: Costa Rica assesses zero income taxes on foreign-earned income… and annual property taxes are laughably low…no more than a few hundred dollars in most cases. And there’s no capital-gains tax!
  2.  Affordable real estate: Despite what you may think, real estate prices in Costa Rica are low—just as low, in fact, as in Mexico and other popular Central American countries like Belize and Panama. You can still find properties with an ocean view, for instance, for one-half to one-tenth what you’d pay for a similar property at home.
  3.  A low cost of living: Most expats report that they live quite happily and without sacrifices on a monthly budget of $2,500 or less.
  4.  It’s easy to start a business here.

Costa Rican attorney Roger Petersen explained just what is needed—legally—to start a business in Costa Rica. Follow his guidelines and your business can be up and running in no time.

Expat businessman Juan Sostheim shared his experiences in that regard. He’s created a self-sustainable community in Costa Rica that has become a new world standard. (It’s so well-regarded that earlier this year, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta flew to Costa Rica and produced a 30-minute program about Juan’s project.)

If you don’t know what it means to be a sustainable community, you ought to listen to Juan explain his vision. I wanted to speak to him after his presentation and congratulate him on what he’s doing, but he had a huge crowd around him. Everybody, it seems, wanted to learn more.

But no worries, I have his contact info… And you can have it, too, along with contact details for every single speaker at this conference. You can get your hands on every single presentation, for that matter.

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

We’ve learned so much over the course of this conference that those in the audience who are thinking of moving here have nothing left to worry about. The only problem they have is remembering it all. Luckily, they don’t have to. Because every single presentation has been captured electronically and on audio recordings.

Seriously, I can’t possibly transcribe all the ideas, solutions, and insights that have been shared here over the last three days. Below is just a snippet of what we’ve discovered:

  •  We’ve learned firsthand how little it really costs to live in Costa Rica. Not from some theoretical budget, but from the people who are actually doing it.
  • We’ve learned about the best places to live and buy property… all the hot spots on the Costa Rica real estate scene. And not from some agent’s listing, but by hearing from the International Living contacts who have insider knowledge on those areas. Importantly, we’ve heard firsthand from expats who live in all these places, too.
  • We now know exactly how and where to get the best deals on real estate properties and rentals. We learned that not by listening to salespeople, but by taking advantage of our market analysts’ extensive experience.
  • We’ve learned what it really takes to retire to Costa Rica. Visas, health care, moving your pets, banking… Not from a book, but from expats who’ve done it themselves…and done it well.

As I said, there has just been too much information shared for me to explain it all here.

Importantly, as I mentioned, today we drilled deep into health care in Costa Rica and discovered why you should avail yourselves of all the tremendous advantages available to you here.

We heard from not one, but two, physicians, from Hospital CIMA and Clinica Biblica. (Dr. Loyola, mentioned earlier was one of those expert speakers.)

If you’re curious about anything at all to do with the type of health care available to you in this country, you should hear for yourself what these professionals have to say…

So how much does health care in Costa Rica cost? As an example, the medical experts from Hospital Clinica Biblica shared a true-life video of a patient from the U.S. who came to Costa Rica for knee-replacement surgery. He’d been quoted $50,000 for the procedure in the States. But in Costa Rica, it cost him $13,350—and that included his airfare and accommodation.

They also shared a price comparison chart with a list of dozens of common procedures. And all I can say is “Wow!” If you need a non-emergency procedure and want to save a bundle, get to Costa Rica now. And once you see this presentation, you’ll be convinced about the quality of medical care offered in Costa Rica.

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 presentations and all three follow-up Question-and-Answer sessions.

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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