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What you need to know before you move to Costa Rica

by rpetersen

What you need to know BEFORE you move to Costa Rica

Is Costa Rica the right place for you to live. For most expats their move to Costa Rica was one of the best decisions they ever made. However, this is not the case for everyone, and those who regret their move usually did not have a realistic picture of what living in Costa Rica is like. This article will give you the basics of what you need to consider before deciding if Costa Rica is right for you,

1.The Costa Rica Mindset

Costa Rica continues to be ranked in the top as the happiest country in the world. So what makes Costa Ricans so happy?   I would say that it is due to Costa Rican’s attitude and general outlook on life. Costa Ricans don’t take themselves or life too seriously. Go with the flow is the local attitude, which can often drive foreign expats crazy who are not used to the slower speed of life. Costa Ricans focus on family and enjoying life.

2.  Cost of Living.

Cost of living in for expats in Costa Rica can vary widely. How much you spend depends on the lifestyle you choose and the area of the country where you will live. Most expats who move from the United States, Canada or Europe can save if they stay away from all the imported food items and use the local farmers market for their shopping.  Costa Rica is not the cheapest retirement destination but many expats report that they can live comfortably in Costa Rica with around $3,000 per month.

3. Safety in Costa Rica.

I generally consider Costa Rica a safe place for expats to live. Of course there are safety risks and crime but you can take the necessary precautions and use common sense to protect your safety and you should be fine.  The Global Peace Index for security ranks Costa Rica as number 1 for Central America and the Caribbean.

4.  Mail Service in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rican postal service (Correos de Costa Rica) doesn’t have an efficient door-to-door mail system. As such most expats rely on private mail courier companies that will process your mail and packages to Costa Rica. Companies such as TransExpress or AeroPost offer the third party mail services.

5.  Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Most expats experience an improvement in their health when they move to Costa Rica. It just seems easier to live healthy in Costa Rica. Part of it is the diet, which while not full of low calorie foods, is a simple diet that does away with many of the high calorie funds commonly used in North America.

It’s also a lot easier to get exercise in Costa Rica because you can be outdoors all the time which keeps you in constant motion.

6.  Diversity of Climate and Terrain.

Costa Rica has 99 micro climates and a very diverse terrain and temperature throughout the country.  That is why it is important for you to experience different parts of the country so that you can determine which part of the country will best suit your lifestyle.  From the sunny beaches of Northern Guanacaste to the rainy jungles of the Caribbean and the coffee fields of the central valley you will certainly find your niche in Costa Rica.

7. The top 3 visas expats use to move to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica makes it easy for expats from many countries to get residency to live in Costa Rica. Here are the three most common types of visas that expats use to move to Costa Rica.

  1. Pensionado. The retiree residency program has been in effect in Costa Rica for more than 40 years.   As long as you have a pension of at least US$1,000 per month you qualify for the pensionado program
  2. Rentista.   The rentista program requires proof that you can receive US$2,500 per month in Costa Rica. The letter that must be provided by your bank or investment company must indicate that you will receive US$2,500 in a stable, permanent and irrevocable manner for the next 2 years.
  3. Inversionista.   If you purchase real estate in Costa Rica whose value is greater than US$200,000 then you qualify for this residency category.

For more detailed information on immigration be sure to read our article on getting residency in Costa Rica.

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