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🠗 BELOW:  We answer some of the most common questions about relocating to Costa Rica and whether moving there is right for your.

Why move to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is great for a fresh start.   If you are ready for the next chapter in life and are capable of working remotely or are retired Costa Rica may be right for you.   Most people choose to move to Costa Rica to simplify life.  They don’t require 3000 square foot homes filled with teh latest consumer goods.   If you love nature, and have a wanderlust to explore then Costa Rica could be just the ticket.

With a modern and highly rated health care system that surpasses the United States, Costa Rica offers lower prices on everything from cosmetic procedures to dental work.  You can figure on about 1/5th the cost of North America.   While some things are cheaper you will find that other items are more expensive, notably the vehicles and the fuel that powers them.

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Plan and estimate costs of your next trip to Costa Rica by adding itinerary options, select accommodation type and dates to calculate costs of your next vacation.

Can a U.S. citizen move to Costa Rica?

You cannot live in Costa Rica legally without applying for resident status. That being said many choose to “live” in Costa Rica as perpetual tourists. Every 90 days they leave the country and come back, sometimes only spending a few hours outside the country at either the Nicaraguan or Panamanian border. This process can be repeated indefinitely. While there is no guarantee that the customs officer will stamp your passport with a 90day visa it is common to do so. To learn more about becoming a perpetual tourists check out this article on the 90 day visa run.

NOTE: COVID-19 has complicated life for the perpetual tourists of Costa Rica as border crossings are complicated. Many countries require a negative test within 48 hours of travel and these can become expensive. Those wishing to come to Costa Rica and fly back to the United States may find they need to comply with local laws regarding quarantine times.

In December 2020, I left Costa Rica to visit family in the United States and quarantined for 14 days, then an additional 7 days as my wife was traveling separately. Initially this didn’t seem like a big deal but turned out to be more uncomfortable then expected. My mother who works in health care had to be completely separated from us for the 21 days in total, which meant preparing meals keeping as separated as possible and using separate entrances to the home. I got tired quite quickly of the disposable masks and was happy when it was over.

Can a Canadian citizen move to Costa Rica?

Canadian citizens just as U.S. citizens won't’ be able to just move to Costa Rica legally. They too will need to either start the residency process or become a perpetual tourists that leaves the country every 90 days. Many people come to enjoy these forced vacations and if you do get tired of it, US & Canadian citizens no longer need to leave Costa Rica once they start their residency process.

Can you just move to Costa Rica?

Absolutely! But as previously mentioned you will need to either leave the country every 90 days or start your residency process. However, you will be able to rent or purchase property, hook up internet service, get a phone line or open a bank account right away. You may not have the exact same options as residents or nationals but you can certainly complete a move and decide if residency is right for you. You will not be able to be legally employed by a Costa Rican company in the country, without being a legal resident, but many people do work remotely.

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What are the advantages of moving to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica can be affordable, especially as it relates to health care. There is a stable democracy with a proud population that boasts a 90% plus turn out for their elections. The weather is pleasant round and if you're unhappy with the current climate you can either wait an hour or drive for an hour. With all of the micro-climates in Costa Rica you can really find your ideal location. There is something for everyone.

Costa Rica offers first world amenities and in the central valley offers modern shopping centers and high speed internet can be found in most areas. The unspoiled natural sites and miles and miles of beaches are another draw. You could spend a lifetime exploring this relatively small country. ⅓ of Costa Rica is set aside in the form of national parks and protected areas and since 99% of the beaches are public there are few areas that would be considered off limits to explore.

 

What are the disadvantages of moving to Costa Rica?

While the answer to this is largely personal, for us the disadvantages of moving to Costa Rica were all a matter of adjustment. Fuel and Cars cost more, so we drive less, Groceries and food were about the same price but the selection was less, so our recipes and diets changed. Amazon and online shopping while available are not nearly as convenient or inexpensive, so we end up with wish lists that are fulfilled by family and friends that visit.

We did find that every disadvantage we could come up with was offset by an equal or greater advantage. Personal services were less expensive and of higher value, but your favorite conditioner might not be available. The more you can “live like a Tico” the less disadvantages you will encounter. Most of the time the inconveniences come with trying to make Costa Rica exactly like things were “back home” If Costa Rica is now home, it’s time to adapt.

What is it going to cost you to live in Costa Rica?

Most people spend $2000 per month and with that can live quite comfortably. That answer is quite vague is it really depends on things like how often you cook, what you eat, do you go out, do you drink etc. A really good way to answer this is to browse the properties for rent in the area you want to live. Once you find a “suitable” home, multiply the rent by 3. So if you find a condo or home you like with a monthly rental price of $1200 per month, you will probably spend in the range of $3,600 per month living here. However if you find a shared apartment with modestammenities for $250, you can most likely get by on $750. While this math is by no means bulletproof it will give you general idea. Different areas of Costa Rica have different costs of living, so by choosing a rental property first and multiplying by 3 you will have a rough calculation of the cost to live in Costa Rica for you.

Costa Rica can be as cheap or as expensive as you choose like many other parts of the world. Speaking generally Costa Rica is more expensive than other countries in Latin America. If your goal is to cut your cost of living to the bone there are cheaper alternatives. If you have fallen in love with Costa Rica or can’t give up the other benefits that it offers then it comes at a price.

 

Expats answer why they moved to Costa Rica

Tiffany-Jaco-Costa-Rica

Tiffany  - age 39
Currently living in Jaco
Moved from San Diego
Moved to Costa Rica in January 2002

Tiffany's Answer


After visiting Costa Rica 4 times, Tiffany who loves yoga and her husband that enjoys surfing loved a lot of things about the country.  They both quit their “stressful jobs” and decided to explore Costa Rica for a month.   The month-long trial was a success and the move became official.

Gustav-San-Jose

Gustav  - age 27
Currently Living in San Jose
Originally From Sweden
Moved in 2017

Gustav's Answer


After traveling through the Americas, Gustav met his wife here in Costa Rica, and decided to stay

katra-Puerto-Viejo

Katra  - age 26
Currently living in Puerto Viejo
Originally From Boston
2 Years of Costa Rica Experience

Katra's Answer


North Eastern University of Boston and Earth University on the Caribbean side had a partnership program that allowed Katra to study abroad initially, She studied sustainable business here.

Henrik-Playa-Portrero

Henrik  - age 54
Lives in Playa Portrero
Originally from Denmark
20+ Years of Costa Rica Experience

Henrik's Answer


When Henrik moved to Costa Rica he was in between chapters in his life and was looking for a change not only in life but in pace and lifestyle.

Nicola

Nickola  - age 32
Now lives in Samara
Originally from Trinidad & Tobago
2 Years Experience

Nickola's Answer


Part of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Nickola chose to try Costa Rica after visiting the vast majority of other countries within Latin America. The location in Samara was also right on the beach.

Mark-Playas-del-Coco

Mark  - age 55
Visits the North Pacific each Year
From Minneapolis
Has been coming for the last 17 years.

Mark's Answer


Mark's passion for nature and researching foreign governments continually bring him back to Costa Rica year after year.

Aisling-La-Fortuna

Aisling - age 34
Now lives in La Fortuna
Originally from Arizona
14 years of Visiting officially moved in December of 2019

Aisling's Answer


Working as a white water rafting guide out of California, Aisling met a group that owned a tourism company here in Costa Rica and was offered a job.

alexa-puntarenas

Alexa - age 24
Lives in Puntarenas
Originally From Costa Rica
Shares her thoughts on why people move to Costa Rica

Alexa's Answer


She felt that Costa Rica’s Nature and the weather were the primary draws to live in Costa Rica

Tim-Escazu-Costa-Rica

Tim - age 37
Lives in Escazu
Originally from New York
10+ Years of Experience
Owner of Itellum Communications

Tim's Answer


Tim saw an opportunity when the Costa Rican government began to deregulate the communications and internet services industry allowing for outside companies to offer services within Costa Rica. This prompted him to raise some capital and begin his company Itellum Communications which offers high speed commercial grade internet throughout Costa Rica.

sarah-puerto-viejo

Sarah - age 33
Lives in Puerto Viejo
Originally from England
Has been coming to Costa Rica for the last 8 years, officially moved 5 years ago

Sarah's Answer


A Latin American tour that ended in Costa Rica brought Sarah to Costa Rica. Her passion for nature and studying sloths prompted her to move permanently.

Simon

Simon- age 29
Lives in Heredia / Puerto Viejo
Originally from Manchester, UK
10 Years of Total Experience and Moved 4 ½ years ago.

Simon's Answer


In University, Simon took a volunteer teaching opportunity in Nicaragua, he enjoyed the lifestyle and began looking for opportunities in Latin America. He was offered a job teaching English in Heredia at the Integral Torah Language Center,

gabby-guanacaste

Gabby- age 38
Lives in Nicoya
Originally from North Carolina
4+ years in Guanacaste

Gabby's Answer


Tired of the Rat Race in New York city where she was living, she was looking for change and found it in Costa Rica. She loved the weather and the laid back lifestyle so decided to make the change permanent and started a family here.

brian-ocotal-guanacaste

Brian- age 46
Lives in Ocotal Guanacaste
Originally from British Columbia
2 Years in Costa Rica

Brian's Answer


Brian got tired of the North American Lifestyle and chasing the dollar, and wanted to shed his dependence on material things. When Brian's daughter started University he decided to make the move after visiting Guanacaste many times. He loves the Pura Vida lifestyle and how the people are more relaxed here.

robyn-uvita

Robyn- age 34
Living in Uvita, Costa Rica
Originally From Vancouver
Moved to Costa Rica 1 Year Ago

Robyn's Answer


After living for 6 months in a Yoga community in the Bahamas, Robyn decided she wanted to keep going and keep traveling so she accepted a work away position in Costa Rica and decided to stay.

ray-carara-park

Ray- age 55
Carara Parque
Vancouver, B.C.
19+ years of Experience

Ray's Answer


In 1982 Ray attended a mining and investment conference that was held in Costa Rica. Ray decided to stay and has made it his home starting both a family and a successful real estate company.

Emilee-Playa-Hermosa

Emilee
Playa Hermosa
Originally from Vermonth
Just moved 2 months ago (at time of recording)

Emilee's Answer


Emilee has always loved Costa Rica and found the stress of running a business in Vermont wasn’t what she and her husband really wanted. She felt like she was missing time with her young children or the Ski town where she lived. She and her husband planned a 10 week long exploratory trip. Emilee knew she wanted a Spanish speaking country and Costa Rica was a good fit.

Domien-heredia

Domien - age 35
Age 35
Lives in Heredia
Originally From Belgium
9 months of experience

Domien's Answer


Visiting Costa Rica had been on Domien’s bucket list for quite some time. Domien ended up quitting his job and took a TEFL course to become a teacher and fell not only in love with Costa Rica but also a girl he met here.

grace-playas-del-coco

Grace - age 35
Age 35
Lives in Playas del Coco
Grace is a Costa Rica national sharing her thoughts on why people move to Costa Rica

Grace's Answer


Grace says that people consider Costa Rica to be safe and established. The weather, and natural attractions that are offered by Costa Rica keep people coming back and eventually some choose to move here and keep exploring. She also felt that the Costa Rican people are a big draw as she has heard many people “Love the way Ticos are”

ladina-nicoya-guanacaste

Ladina - age 26

Age 26
Lives in Nicoya
She is originally from Switzerland:
She moved in 1994

Ladina's Answer


Grace says that people consider Costa Rica to be safe and established. The weather, and natural attractions that are offered by Costa Rica keep people coming back and eventually some choose to move here and keep exploring. She also felt that the Costa Rican people are a big draw as she has heard many people “Love the way Ticos are”