Tranquility for $1,500 a Month in Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

$1,500 a Month in Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica. |©

"Moving here was one of the best decisions I ever made," says Bev Berry, an adventurous Californian who traded the US for the tranquil shores of Lake Arenal in Costa Rica.

Bev's spirit has always led her to follow her heart. Before settling in Costa Rica, she lived in her RV and traveled around the US for almost six years. Now, she happily resides in the Tronadora area near Tilaran with her trusted companion, her dog Violet.

Surrounded by howler monkeys, armadillos, iguanas, and sloths, Bev's daily routine is intertwined with nature's wonders.

"Being in nature is one of the reasons I picked this area. I wanted monkeys in my yard," Bev shares, reflecting on her new home. "And that is what I got!"

After purchasing a video program about Costa Rica from International Living, Bev felt drawn to this Central American paradise.

"My cousin retired to Ecuador, so I considered it. However, once I saw what Costa Rica offers, I knew it was the place for me," she says. "This lake brings me peace, joy, and serenity. I also love being in a small, friendly community—having tico (what Costa Ricans call themselves) and expat friends gives me a sense of belonging."

Lake life means a pretty full social calendar. "There's one group I meet with for a Thursday night dinner—we all go out together. And there's another Sunday meet-up; we play cards or a board game and relax in the pool."

Bev and her dog Violet live happily surrounded by nature in Costa Rica.
Bev and her dog Violet live happily surrounded by nature in Costa Rica.

Bev stays busy; she's developing transformational retreats for women in her local area and has been inspired to write a book. To keep active, she started playing pickleball, which is quickly taking hold in the area with ticos and expats as well.

Bev enjoys her pensionado resident status in Costa Rica. This visa requires proof that you have at least $1,000 per month in income from Social Security, disability, a pension, or other retirement plan and allows you to bring in a spouse and dependents under 18 years of age.

Bev found the process quite painless. "I had a great attorney for my residency, and it was completed within a year and a half after I moved here," she explains. "Costa Rica felt like home from the first time I visited in March 2020. The following year, I researched Costa Rica and decided where I wanted to live. Then I moved here in July 2021."

Aside from the beautiful nature and ease of residency, she also enjoys the lower cost of living.

"I live on a budget of $1,500 or less monthly," she says. "I've got a knack for finding deals."

Bev currently pays $400 per month in rent. Previously, she rented a larger three-bedroom, two-bath, lakeview house with her son for $650 a month.

She spends between $300 and $400 per month on food.

"Meals out aren't expensive, yet adding a few drinks raises the price. My dinner the other night with a glass of wine was $15. My current utilities bill is under $100 a month. And most importantly, I feel very safe in my community."

Life in Costa Rica is relaxing, but it isn't always all sunshine and rainbows.

"My biggest complaint is the mechanics," Bev explains. "I got the wrong mechanic once, which cost me a lot of time and money. I recommend talking to people who have been around to get recommendations."

Bev says the bus system's great in Tronadora; however, there are a couple of hours between buses each day so it takes some planning to get where you want to go.

Despite these minor annoyances, Bev is happy with her new life. She felt that Costa Rica was the right place for her, trusted her intuition, and it worked out.

"If Costa Rica calls you, follow the call," she advises.