Baby Boomers in Costa Rica
During the administration of President Oscar Arias the Costa Rican government declared that Baby Boomers were a national priority for Costa Rica. What happened to this initiative ? Politics got in the way.
Under the “National Priority” proposal of former President Oscar Arias the Executive Decree that he signed would make the attraction of foreign retirees a National Priority. At the time an article in the local newspaper La Nación, indicated that the goal was to attract at least 10,000 retirees in the next couple of years who would generate $340 million dollars in the local economy. To date none of the goals in that decree have been implemented.
In 1971 Costa Rica was at the forefront in legislation attracting foreign retirees. In that year Costa Rica passed the Pensionado-Rentista program which at the time was administered by the Costa Rican Tourism Board. The program was very successful and instrumental in attracting retirees and investors to Costa Rica. For many years the program provided several tax incentives to retirees that would settle in Costa Rica. These incentive included duty free importation of an automobile and tax exemption on household furnishings brought into the country by the retiree. Decisions by previous governmental administrations eliminated all the tax exemptions. As a result the pensionado-rentista program became just another immigration category with no incentives at all. The personalized treatment previously offered to applicants by the Costa Rican Tourism Board was also eliminated and the processing was turned over to the general processing window at the Department of Immigration.
While Costa Rica has reduced the benefits offered by its residency programs other countries in Latin America such as Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Uruguay, Belize and Mexico have either implemented or strengthened their retiree programs. With an estimated 70 million “baby boomers” in the United States alone it is evident that any country which successfully attracts them will benefit financially.
By declaring Baby Boomers a National Priority the government intended to offer incentives and funding to business and projects which are designed to receive the Baby Boomers. For example the government intended to provide incentives for the development of retirement communities to attract Baby Boomers to Costa Rica.
For Baby Boomers interested in Costa Rica this would have meant that you would have been offered tax breaks and incentives for settling in Costa Rica. The proposal even included a much needed addition to immigration processing which would have been a special processing window at the Department of Immigration to handle their applications. Even today there are no signs of this becoming a reality. We have a new administration in office with President Guillermo Solis and he has had his handful with other issues so very little has been mentioned about reviving this initiative. We will keep you posted.