Why Move To Costa Rica?

Join the 20,000 American expats already living
“la pura vida” in Costa Rica


Costa Rica’s fame as a retiree destination is richly deserved. You’ll find the tropics along the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts, while most of the Central Valley is cool and breezy. If you find it difficult to choose which climate you prefer, you will be glad to know that the mild temperatures of the Central Valley are just two hours by car from the tropical beaches of the Pacific Coast.

Expats are attracted to Costa Rica for numerous reasons, which include the low cost of living, excellent health care, modern telecommunications structure, beautiful beaches, rainforests, lush valleys, and cool mountains…not to mention the theaters, art galleries, and fine dining. There are more than 20,000 expats living in Costa Rica and many well-established expat communities.

Tucked between Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east, Costa Rica may truly have it all: a year-round tropical climate, modern cities, Caribbean beaches, Pacific coastline, rainforests, lush valleys, and mountains.

Everyone, including IL, once thought Costa Rica was thoroughly discovered…over-priced…yesterday’s news. That’s why we were astonished to see this country turn things around and get back onto our real estate radar.

In March 1997 we took Costa Rica off our recommended list. Twelve years later, in 2009, Costa Rica was back on our list of Top Retirement Havens and remains there still. Yes, after 12 years off our list of affordable opportunities for profit, IL has discovered that there is an unknown—and still affordable—side to one of the world’s most coveted overseas retirement destinations.

Long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts…dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife…towering volcanoes, lush green valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear lakes, rivers, streams, and waterfalls…mesmerizing sunrises, sunsets, and star-filled evening skies…all these things, and much more, are drawing people back to Costa Rica.

Whether expats live in this beautiful country full- or part-time, they relish the climate, neighborly atmosphere, low cost of living, excellent health care, stable democracy, and countless ways to have fun. This is a middle-income, developing economy, with a tradition of democracy. The life expectancy at birth here is one of the highest in the world—outstripping both the U.S. and the UK. Tourist facilities are extensive, and because English is a second language for many Costa Ricans, the country feels very visitor-friendly.

In Costa Rica, the good life is called “pura vida.” For those who retire in Costa Rica, pura vida is a daily fact of life in this beautiful, exotic, and surprisingly affordable country.

Read on to find out more about this beautiful country and why we think it should be at the top of your retirement destinations list.

Yours sincerely,

Jackie Flynn
Publisher, International Living

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Beware: This Happens to Almost Everyone in Costa Rica
By Erin Morris

The story of how most expats ended up living in Costa Rica is so similar to mine: "I came to Costa Rica on vacation, fell in love, and decided to stay." But fell in love with what exactly? What is it about Costa Rica that entices someone to leave their home country and start all over in a foreign land?

I was first lured by the wonderful tropical climate. Life is so much simpler living in warm, but not too hot, weather. I don’t need a big wardrobe, I don’t need allergy medicine anymore, and I can live in the simplest of structures. I live in an un-insulated house and control the small fluctuations in temperature by opening or closing my windows. Rare cold days and nights become a hot topic of gossip and help to create a bond and sense of community as everyone retells the story of how they spent their cold evening huddled underneath the blankets, watching movies.

A huge variety of beautiful plants thrive year-round. Mangos and other exotic fruits grow in abundance, so they are not expensive like they are in the States. In my backyard, I have orange and lime trees that constantly produce new fruit. In fact, most of the fruits and vegetables here in Costa Rica produce year-round, so it’s extremely easy to be healthy and eat local in-season food. There’s no complicated menu planning as you wonder what the grocery store will have in stock that week—it’s all in stock, always!

Traveling is one of the biggest draws to this country with trips to exotic locations easy and inexpensive. Currently, I’m living in a picturesque mountain town. That’s already like a vacation to most people (including me). So when I take time off to travel to the Pacific Coast or the Caribbean Coast, I am taking a vacation... from my vacation. I can take my dog with me—she is welcome at most establishments—and stay at a nice hotel on the beach for $15 - $30 a night.

If that sounds fantastic, that’s because it is!

The people I have met and continue to meet every day in Costa Rica are amazing. Most of the Ticos (Costa Rican locals), especially those in the smaller towns, are warm, caring, respectful people. And as for expats, I have met some of the most interesting people among that crowd. Most of them are adventurous creative people with a wide range of amazing histories, big imaginations and big dreams. It’s a cross-section of people who wouldn’t normally find themselves in the same social circles in the States, but since we all have the expat factor in common, we get to become friends and expand our remarkable international networks.

I find myself being thankful on a daily basis for my happy, exotic life in Costa Rica.

Editor’s note: We've traveled the length and breadth of Costa Rica, exploring on your behalf. In fact, we've come up with an easy way for you to get "hooked up" with Costa Rica experts, with your fellow readers who share an interest in Costa Rica, and with a friendly community of expats we know already living in Costa Rica who can share with you their insights and advice.

It essentially puts you on the "inside" so you have people to turn to and you don’t have to figure everything out on your own.

 -International Living Article