I believe that many of you have fantasized about retiring and living on a pristine beach somewhere in the world, sipping your favorite mixed drink with a little umbrella on top. Many Americans as well as people from other countries love to retire in Costa Rica for the same reasons as I did. I can only offer a few reasons here because there are so many.
Let’s start off with the amazing views, which extend from one end of Costa Rica to the other. Beauty abounds practically everywhere you go, especially in the areas off the beaten path surrounded by nature, the ocean, the mountains, the rainforests, and the cloud forests. We live in Grecia on one of the 5 ridges, and almost everyone here has million-dollar views of nature or the mountains.
In addition, the year-round climate is spectacular, with many micro-climates and two distinct seasons: the wet season and dry season. Most folks I know love them both equally. The wet season runs from May to November while the dry season runs from December to April. To learn more about the weather in Costa Rica, read my blog post “It’s a Beautiful Day in Costa Rica – Our Weather” (from January 17, 2021).
As Costa Rica is such a small country, you can travel practically the entire length of the country, north or south from San Jose, within a matter of 4-6 hours, seeing some of the most gorgeous towns and beaches along the way. We love taking short holidays and visiting other areas of the country. By the same token, you can drive south or west within 4-6 hours and visit towns on the Caribbean coast, such as Puerto Viejo, Limon, and Tortuguera. We simply love Tortuguero, which is known as the Amazon of Costa Rica.
Let’s look at the cost of living, which is a huge topic among expats. I will not delve too deeply into this topic because there are so many variables for each person, such as lifestyle. I highly recommend reading my blog post “Costa Rica Ain’t Cheap” (July 2, 2020). I believe that Costa Rica is far less expensive than where I’m from in California, but that being said, you do have to adjust your lifestyle somewhat. I’ve read many articles and blogs about the average cost to retire in Costa Rica. Some say the cost is typically $1500 to $1700 for an individual retiree or $2500 a month for a retired couple. This includes housing, transportation, medical care, and food. Again, to be sure, the lifestyle you plan to live will determine how much a Costa Rican retirement will actually cost you.
Costa Rica has high quality healthcare. Many doctors and dentists have completed their training in the United States. One of the best parts about healthcare here is how inexpensive it is compared to North America and other wealthier countries. Costa Rica has two systems. The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS, or simply the Caja) is the national healthcare system. You have to make a monthly payment to be able to access this universal healthcare. As an expat, once residency is acquired, you simply pay into the program, and your medical care is covered. The payment is typically 7% to 11% of your reported income, so for most, it is quite affordable. Meanwhile, many expats choose to buy a private policy. The premiums of private insurance vary widely based on your chosen deductibles, and you can get great healthcare services at the many private hospitals scattered throughout the country. Although this is the most expensive option in Costa Rica, it costs considerably less than buying a similar policy in the U.S. If you’re an expat and do not have residency, you can always pay out of pocket, which is far less than in North America.
Most Americans I know initially choose to rent instead of buying a home or condo in Costa Rica. They tend to wait for a year or so before buying or building a custom home. If you have questions regarding real estate here in Costa Rica, I have great contacts I can refer you to who can answer all of your real estate questions. Simply drop a reply in the message box below.
For most Americans, Costa Rica is just a short plane ride away, making the journey quite easy. Come on down and enjoy the pura vida lifestyle!