Why move to Costa Rica?
Adventurous people around the world are searching for better places to live as the political climate of their home countries becomes more and more unstable. And then there are folks just looking to try a different lifestyle! So many exotic destinations are being touted as the new up and coming place to live. So why, after all these years, are people still choosing and moving to Costa Rica? It used to be an easy question to answer – stable economy, cheap living, no army and daily sunshine. Things are not as easily answered these days – especially as our expat community has grown from young surfers …. to retirees and whole families! So with a growing selection of other countries welcoming expats across their borders, why is Costa Rica still one the best countries to be an expat?
Well, for one, the original answers are still there. And the fact that they have been there, for all these years, means stability. First and possibly foremost, a stable economy. While things have gotten more expensive here in the past 20 years, where haven’t they? And prices have pretty much capped out in the past few years. Most products here say Hecho en Costa Rica (made in Costa Rica) which I love. Things made here are purchased here, and that = jobs, taxes, production, stability.
Costa Rica is still Affordable
The minimum wage is only $3 hour, but people can live on that because of the cultural dichotomy. I am not going to get into that now, but its doable when there are several people in the household working, and when property taxes run an average of $200/year and overall utility bills can be held at $100-$150/month. I’m not saying they live like kings, but its not poverty either. So if you are a pension status resident, bringing in $1500 plus per month (usually there are 2 of you) you can certainly figure out how to live in Costa Rica on your budget very nicely. A family that is moving here for work will most certainly have a higher income bracket with the company they are transferring with than the typical local wage, and professionals who can work remotely will be living off the same income as they were before. Depending on where you live depends on how much your expenses will be. Not ALL of Costa Rica is cheap, but not ALL of Costa Rica is expensive either. Houses in the mountains of the Central Valley where I live start at $90,000USD for a 1-2BR expandable home and lot. A large plantation style home built to North American standards with Ocean Views and a pool could run you half a million. But your property taxes on either one will be less than 500USD/year. And if you are in the mountains, you have NO ac or heating bills. If you complain that food is more expensive than in Mexico, let me know how you like living in Mexico. Or Nicaragua. There’s always a trade-off. I’m not willing to trade the stability.
Costa Rica still has No Army
That means more and more to me each time I go somewhere and I stand next to a guy in green with a machine gun. I HATE IT. Even after you cross the border in Nicaragua there are 2 more check points with guns held. The first few times I went to Belize and exited the airport (1997, 1999), I came face to face with them – they are the police force. I did not do anything wrong, there’s no juicy details, but they were there, walking around with guns in hand waiting for the strike. That makes me feel uneasy, especially now with my children. And after being in Costa Rica for years I honestly forget what it feel like to have all that ‘protection’ around. I head back to the US and it’s the same – guns in holsters everywhere, guns guns guns. Military in the streets in NYC, my home town. NO thank you. I do not take our No Army status for granted, I truly appreciate. it. And I realize that having the US as a friend is much of the reason why we have not needed an army in the past (we will see what the future holds as we continue to hold 2 seats in the UN). My children are growing up in a very uneasy and UNPEACEFUL world, but they are living in Costa Rica and I feel safe here. I cannot say the same for other countries in Central and South America. We have residents moving here constantly from EL Salvador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Columbia and Brazil to name a few.
Costa Rica still has Daily Sunshine!
That’s never ending! Originally people flocked to the beaches to ride the waves and live the pura vida. Or else they got stuck living in the city for work – either way it gets HOT HOT HOT! Expat residential areas have grown all over Costa Rica as they get to know the rest of the country, and start having different reasons for moving here. I chose San Ramon with my husband, who is from San Jose Costa Rica originally, because I wanted the beach and he wanted the city. We visited and looked for a house for the first 15 years of our marriage, had 2 deals fall through and returned to the drawing board each time we came back visiting. First with no children, then 1, then 2, then 3…. when we finally came upon San Ramon one day as a full family of 7 with my parents in tow. We were 2 inches away from buying a giant property in Atenas or a B&B in Orosi valley, had narrowed it down to those 2 when someone told us about San Ramon – so we took a look on our last day here. 15 years and 15 minutes later we were making an offer on the home where we happily live now. Gorgeous views of the ocean (if I couldn’t live at the beach, I at least wanted to see the water!), daily temperatures in the 70s-80s year round, healthy living with no a/c or heat, and no bills to prove it! We chose a central location that was close to all the things we both wanted, and had the amenities we needed for a family of EVERY AGE.
So Why NOT move to Costa Rica?
So the question of why to move to Costa Rica can still be answered as it always has, and with so much more available it just keeps getting better. But maybe the new question is why NOT to move here? For that, I think you may just have to come see. Some people can’t handle the laid back reality that comes with the pura vida. They think they want it, but by the 5th time they are on line at the bank, they are pulling their hair out. You have to understand that Costa Ricans are welcoming and proud. They love their country and love it when we love it too! Costa Rica is also mostly a live and let live group, which means everyone is welcome. Pura vida! No matter what your family type, lifestyle, age, language, religion, sex or martial status, you will find most areas of Costa Rica inviting. In my particular area of the Central Highlands (the mountains that create the central valley), several single women including widows and young professionals and college students live in our area because it is safe and fun! I have same sex couples seeing properties with me monthly, and choosing our area to live because they feel comfortable here. Families are choosing San Ramon more and more because of the excellent schools – both public and private, some bilingual, and 2 Universities to choose from. Retirees continue to buy homes and invest in developments in our area as they welcome others to great medical options, fun jazz nights, an organized community of volunteering and much much more. Come see for yourself why Costa Rica continues to be on so many people’s wish list for living – and not just in retirement! Want to see it all with us? Just ask! firstname.lastname@example.org