Costa Rica

What comes to mind when you think of Costa Rica?  Jungles?  Coffee?  Tropical birds and plants?  Ecotourism?  Those who retire in Costa Rica enjoy all this as well as a low cost of living, friendly people, great food, a good healthcare delivery system, long life expectancy, and so much more. 

Costa Rica jumped on the eco-tourism bus many years ago and saved more than 25% of the country for national parks and wildlife preserves.   The lush mountains are home to the most amazing birds and wildlife we have ever seen!

The latest census reports 4.5 million ticos (men) and ticas (women) living in Costa Rica – a Central American country just smaller than West Virginia.  This includes some 20,000 US expats.

The temperature and humidity varies, depending on where you are.  The tropical rainforest is, as you’d expect, hot and humid.   The central valley is in the 70’s every day.  The beaches are hotter.  

While the cost of living is low in every single index (food, rent, utilities, restaurants, housing) the crime rate is a little higher than we’d like to see, mostly in the larger cities – but about the same as the U.S.  We’ve heard, over and over, be aware of your personal safety.  This is just common sense everywhere you travel.

A one bedroom apartment in the modern capital of San Jose is $700 per month and outside town you will pay $540 US.    There are luxury estates in gated communities with golf courses for millions of U.S. dollars.  You can find very high end condominiums in beachside resorts.   But, you can also find newer two bedroom homes in the $150,000 range in in the very desirable  area of El Cajon.  

If you have dreamed of beachfront property in your retirement, be aware that the first 200 meters above the high tide markers are owned by the government and the first 50 meters is public access.   There are rules regarding foreign ownership or possession of beach property – buyer beware! 

The residency requirements for retired people is in flux as of 2014, so check their website for the latest details.   There is a minimum income level and a requirement to change dollars to colones.  In the past, you have had to live in Costa Rica for at least 4 months of the year for a pensionado visa – but we’ve heard that is changing too.   You must be able to prove a $1,000 a month income from Social Security or retirement fund.  After 3 years, you can apply for permanent residency.  Stay tuned.  

All foreign income in Costa Rica is tax exempt.  You can also purchase property and own it 100%.   The sales tax (a Value Added Tax) is 13%, except for food and medicines. We have a real passion for Costa Rica at Retirebook.  

Take a sneak-peak eco-tour to get a feel for what Costa Rica offers.   You will fall in love!

Photo By Trish Hartmann via

Living in Costa Rica
Pros: Cost of living, friendly people, biodiversity
Cons: Language, hot and humid most of the year.
Best Places to Live:  Depends on what you like for weather!
Did You Know: The life expectancy in Costa Rica is one of the highest in the world!

Discover Costa Rica

This great little video will give you a good glimpse of what you can expect to see in this beautiful, diverse, country. 


Buying Real Estate in Costa Rica

Here’s some really good insights about buying vrs. renting in different areas of Costa Rica.


Living in Escazu, Costa Rica

Sally shares her expat experiences moving to and living in Costa Rica.  Health care, housing, taxes, etc. 



Retire in Escazu, Costa Rica

We can't very well write about retiring in Costa Rica without telling you about Escazu.   This mountain town is actually in the San Jose metro area and is the wealthy section of town.   Just over 13,000 live here and this is a favorite expat haven.  A little cooler...

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Retire in Playa Herradura, Costa Rica

If you are into sailing or sports fishing, this just may be the place for you!   Boasting one of Costa Rica's finest marinas on the west coast, and an hour from the San Jose Airport, Herradura is an emerging beach town with a lot to offer.    There are several resorts...

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Retire in Altenas, Costa Rica

Those who retire in Atenas, Costa Rica (and the National Geographic) claim the "best climate on earth" in this mountain valley, just 25 miles from the capital of San Jose.    The town is coffee central with flourishing plantations in a lush landscape.  No wonder so...

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