I’ll write a detailed report of our living expenses in Costa Rica, but suffice it to say it’s less than the cost of living in Southern California. Costa Rica is an ideal emigration spot from the U.S. with first-world amenities like healthcare, modern shopping centers and high-speed internet. No, we aren’t rich or have a trust fund. I’m in the middle of the largest urban area in Costa Rica, the capital, San José, founded in 1738. Most rentals are fully furnished, complete with kitchen supplies. Costa Rica offers universal health care, called Seguro Social or caja, to its citizens and permanent residents. From the cost of housing to the price of healthcare, here’s everything you need to know about the cost of living in Costa Rica. Unless you are retired with a pension, have a substantial investment portfolio or plan to open a business in Costa Rica, obtaining residency will be a long and not necessarily fruitful process. Moving to Costa Rica is a big decision. I’m sure we’ll talk more about this in future posts. Sunsets in Costa Rica are the most beautiful I have ever seen. © 2020 USATODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. As this trend continues you will probably start to find more expats living and dating in San Jose then ever before. This is a big deal for our family who has various needs and insane medical premium costs in the United States. Many of our expat friends are living on less. Costa Rica is incredibly safe, as long as you use good sense. In the Central Valley, such lifestyles can easily amount to $3000 or more monthly. Once you’ve actually decided to go for it, moving here is only as complicated as you make it. With its beautiful landscapes, tropical climate, and affordable cost of living, you can live any type of lifestyle you want. Throughout Central and South America, Costa Rica has long stood out as a beacon of stability and neutrality. What we do want to do is to give you a clear picture of what you could expect in your day-to-day life living in Costa Rica. Last year he was just riddled with performance anxiety. You can find Costa Rica expat communities living all throughout the country. The easiest route to residency is through the pensionado or rentista programs, available for retirees with monthly pension or social security payments over $600 per month or individuals with more than $1,000 per month in investment income. There are families spending less and those who spend much, much more. There are some real differences between living in Costa Rica than living in the USA, but not as broad as you might think. The quality of life is incredibly high, and your money goes pretty far depending on your town, lifestyle and how you travel. There is a large pool of highly literate and well trained people to fill nearly every job category. If you and your spouse want to retire together, you can easily do … According to the U.S. Department of State, the democratic government operates with a very strong system of constitutional checks and balances. Costa Rican living strikes a rare balance between high standard of living – the highest in the region – and affordability. Moving to Costa Rica was the right decision, but it’s not all sunsets and sloths. In our Costa Rica life, it’s not normal for kids to be super overscheduled, riddled with pressure to compete or sleep-deprived from so much stimulus. Costa Rica is becoming a pretty major tourism spot for Americans these days. Choosing where to retire in Costa Rica can be difficult due to the seemingly limitless amount of options. When we traveled to Costa Rica as tourists, we most often took the bus or shuttles. Even as an over-protective mother to a black son, I underestimated how impactful this change was for my 2nd-grader who, on the second day of school, asked the Director, “How do you get in trouble here? Secure housing. It’s normal for kids to be allocated ample space to run and swim while adults eat dinner or catch up with friends because restaurants account for a cultura de familia when designing their spaces. Compared to many of its Central American neighbors, Costa Rica is extremely safe. Moving to Costa Rica with kids in tow is surprisingly easy because many families have done it before. This is how we moved to Costa Rica (as a perpetual tourist, until we begin residency), in 3 easy steps…. 1. True to the country's commitment to peace, it maintains no standing army, which also bolsters the national budget and supports social services for residents. Funds for school counselors are being cut, as well as other funding. It can feel hard to just be. (Photo: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images ), U.S. Department of State: Background Note - Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law: Costa RIca Immigration and Residency Information, U.S. Department of State: Costa Rica Country Specific Information, "The Globe and Mail"; Home Abroad -- Paradise Found? Moving to Costa Rica was the right decision, but it’s not all sunsets and sloths. 3 in a list of the top 20 countries in the world for retiring abroad, following Panama and Portugal. Waterfalls are everywhere. People bring 20+ suitcases, containers of storage and, in general, lots and lots of stuff. I’ll write more about this, but my advice is to secure housing for a month or so near whatever community/point of reference is anchoring you first. Within these cantons on Guanacaste’s Nicoya Peninsula, heart disease, many types of cancer, and diabetes are hardly seen. Browse our high-quality expat network to find like-minded expatriates from the United States of America in Costa Rica. People from all over the world are choosing to move to the breathtakingly beautiful country of Costa Rica, making it their new home. Living in Costa Rica is often appealing to foreigners. These “perpetual tourists” are able to own businesses, property, even cars. People live on and for the media. Costa Rica's stunning coasts and rainforests tempt foreigners visitors to stay permanently. Costa Rica is one of the most popular expat destinations in the world for a reason. Costa Rica’s efforts in environmental protection have made us better global citizens and consumers. Despite the horror stories you find online, moving from the US to Costa Rica was quite easy. Admittedly, it has been hard for a long time as middle-class Californias striving to give our kids “the best” and inadvertently living a lonely, false narrative. Ultimately, I’m not convinced our school system is preparing kids for future economies. Situated in Central America, Costa Rica borders Panama and Nicaragua, and has both Pacific and Atlantic Ocean coastlines. Private medical clinics and hospitals are also available for cash-paying customers. Picking the Best Place to Live in Costa Rica. Do I have to pull a card or move my clip?”. The kids and my marriage are both thriving, my health is renewing and even our bank accounts are enjoying the lighter load. (Another post on the Costa Rican car buying saga another time.). It is among the best in Latin America. Logan's work has appeared in Boston-area online magazines, including "The Second Glass" and "The Savvy Bostonian," and in publications at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Living in Costa Rica as an American has obvious advantages and Costa Rica continues to attract expats in record numbers. The cost of living in Costa Rica – though high for Central America – is one reason living here made sense for our family. Our Complete Guide to Costa Rica with Kids, 5 Reasons The Cost Of Disney Cruise Is Worth The Money, Callejon de Hamel: Afro-Cuban Culture in Havana, Disneyland’s Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. If anyone ever told you that living abroad in Costa Rica, or anywhere for that matter would be a magical, fairy tale paradisaical experience, take it lightly. They’re constantly being challenged to apply those thinking principles throughout their education, whether that be in their advanced mathematics class or their farm and garden elective. Although the decision to live in Costa Rica was quick, the seed was planted years before. Move! De Su Mama is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. Combine that with our culture of consumerism, statistics regarding being black in schools, the cost of living and economic segregation of most urban centers, plus just the general vibe of American news cycles, 2020 felt like a good time to radically shift what our family considered “normal”. No, we aren’t rich or have a trust fund. So much land is protected by the government that there is a palpable difference as you cross the border. In addition to the legal aspects of working in Costa Rica, it is important to consider practical concerns. How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica? When my daughter needed antibiotics for a severe sinus infection and fever, it was $85 total. My 4th-grade daughter is currently taking a class on the core principles for successful thinking and communication for collaboration. The average cost to retire in Costa Rica totals around $1,500 per month or $18,000 a year for an individual retiree. Conditions are particularly unsafe for pedestrians, and road accidents claim the lives on average of two pedestrians a day. Cost of living in San Jose, Costa Rica is 55% more expensive than in Buenos Aires; Cost of living in San Jose, Costa Rica … I know, we’re crazy. Another consideration is the use of conscience discipline instead of punitive, reactionary measures. The general rule of thumb for monthly living expenses is to allocate $1,000 to $2,000 per month including housing, according to both the Costa Rican immigration requirements and "International Living Magazine." Locals drive quickly and dangerously, passing where it is not safe to do so and not respecting the right of way. Costa Rica’s biodiversity rivals other countries much larger and wealthier. Just take a look at our group ofAmericans in San José. My husband has career goals too, so he’ll be coming back and forth until the Pura Vida vibe has pulled him in all the way in. In summary Costa Rica has become such a popular location for north American expats looking to live offshore for obvious reasons. ; Robert J. Brodey; May 28, 2003, Direccion General de Migracion y Extranjeria : Residencia Temporal (In Spanish), The Effects of 9/11 on the Airline Industry, Privacy Notice/Your California Privacy Rights. Those expats interested in simple living should budget $1500 or less monthly. PER KID! Costa Rica is a perfect destination for expats wishing to make a new start abroad while enjoying to be surrendered by amazing natural landscapes. Financially, if we decide to stay here long term, our goal would be to build a home with cash reserves to alleviate housing costs and secure our financial independence. Costa Rica now competes with dozens … That being said, Costa Rica is among the world’s leading users of pesticides based on per capita according to a 2015 Semanario Universidad report detailing the Regional Institute of Toxic Subantance Studies (IRET) on the country’s use per hectare of farmland. As much as you want it to! Costa Rica is not a third world country. In the latest annual survey by International Living, Costa Rica ranked No. While $500 monthly may be enough to live simply in the country, most working foreigners live in beach towns or the Central Valley, where the majority of jobs are locate… Foreign residents have flocked to the country in such great numbers – approximately 200,000 live in the Central Valley alone – that the government has tightened immigration procedures. We will consider the Cons first: Cost of living is higher than other countries. Gabi Logan began writing food and travel articles in 2004. The result is a nation of laid-back, friendly, and happy people who value, not just their culture, but the stable, nonviolent neutrality of their political history. We aren’t stuck to one narrative. I enrolled the kids in private school, signed a condo lease and even bought a car. So approximately $3,000/month. Some people see squirrels out their front door, we see monkeys! Compared to salaries in the United States, Canada or Europe, Costa Rican salaries are generally low – the average salary in Costa Rica hovers around $500 per month. We buy one-way, refundable tickets in advance that we cancel as needed and plan to leave the country every 90 days. Driving in Costa Rica can be intimidating for a first- or even second- or third-time visitor. Because, in part, of class sizes, teaching the individual child as a dynamic human being is nearly impossible. We haven’t sold our house (yet) or made any permanent decisions, which has given us time to asses our new lifestyle. Its homicide rate is 10.3 people per 100,000, second in the region only to Nicaragua at 8.7. Globalism has not missed Costa Rica. On the international stage, Costa Rica is well-regarded for its environmental and human rights advocacy and work towards peace in the region. Potholes, dips and cracks mark the roads so severely that cars can be damaged driving over them. Here are some of the best cities for an American to retire in Costa Rica: Tamarindo. The pros of moving to Costa Rica. We’re also grateful to this beautiful country for showing us the diverse ways to live a productive, simplified and happy life. For many people, this might actually be a con or negative to living abroad. It has more than enough money to invest into social development and nature preservation programs. You can also buy Costa Rica health insurance for expats which are private options at a low cost. Others choose to retire or live in relative luxury, employing full-time housekeepers, commuting by car, enjoying exquisite homes and consuming imported goods. You can have the best surf, white or black sand beaches, thick mangroves… and my favorite of all, long stretches of untouched beach without another soul in sight. Living in a country chock-full of beautiful beaches, rainforests, and incredible wildlife where you can adopt a simple, relaxed lifestyle is not beyond reach, believe me.. It took us several trips to gain the courage to finally get behind the wheel. I’m not out in the country or living on a farm. But what was really concerning for us was the lack of autonomy the kids (and teachers, to be honest) were afforded when it comes to how and what they learn. It’s because the amazing benefits easily outweigh the bad, in the minds of most expats. Or, though sometimes frowned upon, tourists can remain in the country on 90-day visas. The customs agent will want to see a return ticket to grant you entry as well. Food costs in Costa Rica can rival those of the states. It’s taken some time to share this online because, frankly, not everyone is happy with the decision. Prior to moving to Costa Rica full time, my kids attended a bilingual summer camp at an international school two summers in a row. Expats in Costa Rica are thriving – their businesses, land/homeownership, school communities are growing – all due to the stable government and low(ish) cost of living. Through freedom of choice, he’s learning about natural consequences and is motivated to read, practice math or just sit still for instruction because he feels safe, loved and excited. People are industrious, many seeking entrepreneurship, raising kids to ask how they can contribute to society and offer solutions. Vs Cons. But, I’ll promise you the same thing I promised my mother: we’re gonna be okay! InterNations helps you meet and interact with other Americans in Costa Rica, living in San José, Quesada, Alajuela and many other places across the country. Whether you prefer a beach on the Pacific coast, a big city, or a remote mountainous region, there are tons of great places to live in Costa Rica. My husband’s blessing was all I needed to set our adventure in motion. The cost of living in Costa Rica – though high for Central America – is one reason living here made sense for our family. This is very difficult to get. Of course, immersing ourselves in Costa Rica’s native language of Spanish is an important factor too. Like, how do I know when I’m in trouble? For some, pura vida can be an acquired taste. Cheap cost of living, good medical care, English speaking locals, and a tropical paradise with sandy beaches. Costa Rica provides that. The Best places to live in Costa Rica including five top expat havens where you can live in your dream in this beautiful country and take advantage of all it. It’s not ideal, but a reality for many folks living in Costa Rica. Average Cost to Retire in Costa Rica . With a stable democracy, strong economy, affordable healthcare, retiree immigration incentives and pleasant weather year-round, Costa Rica has positioned itself as an ideal emigration spot from the U.S. First-world amenities, including modern shopping centers, healthcare and high-speed internet, lie just tens of miles from unspoiled beaches and biodiverse rainforests. Costa Rica is also home to one of the five “Blue Zones”. Much like other Latin American countries, Costa Rican culture is a blend of indigenous heritage and Spanish colonial influence with a dash of Jamaican, Chinese, and other immigrant cultures lending character and customs. Though Costa Rica is a hub for all things tropical, planning to live in Costa Rica full-time is different than visiting it is a tourist. Expats talk about the cost of living in Panama and Costa Rica - housing costs, gas, car, electric, internet, groceries, budgets for various lifestyles and more. Costa Rica is well known for its move to carbon neutrality, and virtually 100% of its electricity is generated from green sources. Buy a plane ticket (with proof of exit flight or bus ticket within 90days). You may be surprised to hear this but it is true. I speak the language and love the culture, and still enjoy the diverse communities built by Ticos and immigrants together. Our local elementary school is free and dual language (one of the best in the state, actually), but it’s almost 900 students and growing. Expat Exchange: Expats in Costa Rica: Pros and Cons of Living in Costa Rica Expats in Costa Rica offer some advice on the pros and cons of living in the Central American country. Therefore, a considerable amount of our monthly cash expenses goes to organic produce purchased at local farmer’s markets – or ferias. If you are highly skilled in an area where that job cannot be filled by a Costa Rican, the employer can apply for a work permit for one year. Generally, this budget allows for bus rides and the occasional taxi, big trips to the farmers' market and a few restaurant meals each month. (Photo: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images ). Admittedly, there are plenty of people living in Costa Rica on tourist visas. UPDATE ON THIS UPDATE: In summer 2018, this American expatriate couple moved back to the U.S. after 9 years in Costa Rica, mainly for health care reasons. The large number of Americans living in Costa Rica continues to attract more. For all of these reasons, and some others that I’ll discuss in this blog make Costa Rica the ideal retirement location for American expats. Though many aspects of Costa Rican living are decidedly first-world, the roads are not among them. We paid cash for our Hyundai Tuscon, a reliable and easy to repair 5-seater, so our transportation costs are minimal. Get here first, then find a rental. 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