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5 Reasons Why You Should Retire in Costa Rica

For many Canadians, retirement is a way to escape the Canadian cold and live a slower paced life by the beach. 

The Caribbean is an extremely popular destination for many planning to retire overseas for the white sandy beaches, picturesque landscapes, laid back lifestyle, and lower cost of living. 

One of the most popular islands in the Caribbean for retirement is Costa Rica. If you’re hoping to retire in Costa Rice and enjoy everything that it has to offer, here is your guide to retirement in beautiful and affordable Costa Rica. 

Where is Costa Rica?

beautiful scenery in Costa Rica near retirement community

Costa Rica, which is officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica, is a Caribbean country located in Central America. It is bordered by Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. 

Its capital city is San Jose and the country currently has a population of around 5 million permanent residents. Costa Rica is generally a stable and safe country, making it an attractive retirement destination for many North American ex-pats. 

What is Life Like in Costa Rica?

tourist kayaking in a river in Costa Rica

Before you even begin the process ofor applying for permanent residency, you’ll want to know what life might be like in the foreign country. 

For North Americans, retiring in Costa Rica feels like a dream come true. The country is home to a local community, healthy lifestyle, and rich history. Additionally, Costa Rica has tons of natural beauty and exotic wildlife that intrigues both tourists and residents alike. 

Costa Rica offers a great climate that can help visitors escape their winter blues. While Costa Rica is known for having some political instability, it has a moderately low crime rate and is safe for foreign nationals. 

5 Benefits of Retiring in Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

Hoping to retire in Costa Rica? Here are a few benefits of retiring in Latin America!

Lifestyle

One of the most attractive reasons why many retirees choose Costa Rica for their retirement is because of the laid back and relaxing life style. 

If you enjoy reading by beautiful beaches, enjoying the local community, exploring the Caribbean coast, and learning about the wildlife that calls the country home, then Costa Rice might be right up your alley. 

For many, the phrase “Pura Vida” comes to mind when they think of Costa Rica. This phrase means “simple life” or “pure life” which full encapsulates what life is like in Costa Rica. 

Along with the beachy lifestyle, you can enjoy sporting events, night life, national parks, and more during your time in Costa Rica. 
Whether you’re looking for a slower lifestyle or an opportunity to explore the culture that the Caribbean has to offer, Costa Rica has something for everyone. 

ex-pat home in Costa Rica

Cost of Living

If you’re hoping to retire in Costa Rica, you will want to consider the cost of living in the country in order to financially prepare for your life after work. Using your retirement income in Costa Rica can actually go a long way – perhaps longer than it would in Canada – as Costa Rica is incredibly affordable. 

Additionally, there are some tax benefits which can benefit a legal resident and retiree in Costa Rica. For one, you do not need to pay taxes on social security income, investments, pension, or retirement fund. This can have a huge effect on your Costa Rican bank account. 

Many grocery items and food items come at an affordable cost and can help your dollar go further while enjoying your retirement fund in Costa Rica. Even if they are inflated due to import taxes, they are still relatively affordable. 

As well, fresh produce at reasonable prices is extremely popular with local Costa Ricans and tourists which will allow you to enjoy the local fruits and vegetables that the Caribbean is home to. 

Additionally, the home prices and rental costs are much cheaper on the Pacific coast and around Costa Rica than they are in major North American cities like Toronto, New York, or San Diego. 

For an apartment in the major city center, monthly rental payments are around $750-800, while rent for an apartment outside the city center can be under $550 per month. This means that most of your monthly income or fixed retirement income won’t necessarily be dedicated to high rental prices like it might be in a Canadian city. 

Healthcare Options

One of the greatest benefits of living in Costa Rica is its universal healthcare system. The Costa Rican public healthcare system is one of the best in Latin America and the medical expenses are often cheaper than that in North America. 

This is extremely beneficial for ex-pats looking for a new home as other Caribbean countries do not have access to great healthcare clinics like Costa Rica offers. 

There are also private insurance options for people who want to avoid long waits at public medical facilities and can cost residents about $100 per month.

Depending on your fixed income or retirement benefits, you may consider purchasing private insurance when retiring in Costa Rica. 

Accessibility

Along with Costa Rica’s natural beauty and healthy lifestyle, it is also very accessible for people hoping to retire in Costa Rica. 
Whether you need to leave Costa Rica last minute or want to be able to travel to and from your retirement home in the Caribbean, Costa Rica has two international airports that offer flights around the world with a valid passport. 

Access to an international airport can be extremely important in case of emergencies, natural disasters, and other reasons which may call you to or from Costa Rica or your home country. There are nonstop flights from San José to many North American cities which makes it a very accessible country. 

Climate

mountainous range in Costa Rica
Finally, another reason why ex-pats and Costa Ricans alike love the country is because of Costa Rica’s beautiful climate. This Caribbean country boasts one of the best year-round climates in the world. 

Costa Rica offers more sunshine during the winter months than both Hawaii or Florida. The Central Pacific Coast and has a climate that stays relatively the same all year round with high 20s-30s Celsius in the coastal areas. 

Additionally, the North Pacific Guanacaste province is the driest spot in the country and Costa Ricans will experience less humidity compared to other parts of the country. 

Even in the wet season, which usually runs from May through November, there is still an abundance of sunshine. The fabulous weather is great for both mental and physical health and can be perfect for people hoping to escape the colder climates in Canada.  

This climate means that you can enjoy your favourite activities all year round – whether it’s golf, soccer, hiking, or lounging by the pool. If you’re someone who doesn’t like heat all the time, you can travel to the mountainous regions or Central Valley which both offer some cooler spring weather.  

Best Places to Retire in Costa Rica

the natural beauty of Costa Rica in the Caribbean
While Costa Rica’s healthcare system, climate, accessibility, and cost of living are some of the best reasons to retire in Costa Rica, here are some cities that you might consider living in once you get a visa or permanent resident status. 

Montezuma

Montezuma is a laid back beach town in Costa Rica that is very popular amongst retirees and ex-pats. With warm weather throughout most of the year and an affordable cost of living, Montezuma is a great option for your retirement. It is located on the southern most part of the Nicoya peninsula and is home to plenty of natural beauty. 

Tamarindo

Located in the Guanacaste province, this small surf town in Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. While Tamarindo may be a small city, there is still tons to do and see while enjoying your retirement in Costa Rica. 

San Jose

San José is the capital city in Costa Rica and is also the largest city in the country. It is also the center for government offices, education, and financial offices in Costa Rica. 

With a comfortable climate year round and tons to see and do, you will definitely want to check out this city in Costa Rica. 

How To Retire in Costa Rica

retired couple lounging in chairs watching the sunset

So you’re set on retiring in Costa Rica, but now you don’t know what to do next. Here are a few steps that you will need to consider if you’re planning on moving to Costa Rica. 

Gaining Temporary or Permanent Residency

One of the most important steps you will need to take is gaining permanent residence or a temporary visa in order to stay longer in the country. 
Without a visa of some sort, Canadians can only in the country for 3 months or 90 days. 

RETIREMENT PROGRAM

For retirees, Costa Rica has a specific immigration program called Pensionado Program. This gives retirees residency and a monthly income to live off while staying the Costa Rica. Individuals can renew their program status every 2 years for only $100. 
As well, you will have to provide proof of income in order to qualify for this status. 

COSTA RICA INVESTOR’S VISA

Another way to gain a visa is through an investment. This is similar to the Citizenshio by Investment Program offered by other Caribbean countries that involves purchasing real estate or making a minimum donation in order to gain a Costa Rican citizen status. 

If you’d like to pursue this option, you should start saving as the required minimum donation amount is USD$200,000. 
After you have lived in the country for three or more years, you may pursue permanent residency. 

Figure Out Your Arrangements

After you have set up some sort of visa that allows you to stay in Costa Rica, you can begin setting up your arrangements for the move. 
For one, you will want to reach out to a local real estate agent or an agent who specializes in helping ex-pats and retirees get ready to move to the Caribbean. 

Finding housing that fits into your retirement budget or lifetime pension will be important so that you won’t run out of money. 

As well, Spanish is the official language in Costa Rica. While locals are usually extremely patient and kind to new Spanish speakers or English speakers, you may benefit from learning the language in order to communicate more effectively with the other residents. 

Conclusion

beach scene in Costa Rica
Retirement is something that many people look forward to as a way to unwind and live a slower-paced life after a busy career. If you’re hoping to retire in the Caribbean, Costa Rica may be on your radar. 

There are many different benefits to retiring in Costa Rica as it boasts a laid-back lifestyle, great healthcare system, affordable cost of living, accessibility, and a comfortable climate. 

About the Author

Helana Mulder is one of REP/CREW magazine’s content writers and has been writing with them for a few months now. Helana’s interest in real estate writing began when her father started his real estate business over 15 years ago. After graduating from university with a degree in English Writing and Communications, Helana began writing content professionally. Outside of work, Helana enjoys listening to music, playing card games with friends, and reading the latest true crime novel.

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