I Would Like to Move To Costa Rica and Retire There
I am giving advice and information on this subject of moving and living in Costa Rica because I did just that. I moved to Costa Rica from USA and lived continuously for five years. I returned to US for business reasons; however, I go back and stay a couple months every year. I lived among the Costa Ricans – not North Americans, although I made many good and lasting friendships among the English speaking population. I learned Spanish, adopted a family there, and fit right into the Costa Rican Culture. I built a home and owned a car. I hired Costa Ricans to work in my home.
I can give strong and relevant advice and not be “long winded” about it.
First-rent a house or apartment. Prices depend on the location..upscale fancy neighborhood up to $1000 month for 2 bedroom apartment or condo. Other areas are more reasonable. Go to a middle class Costa Rican neighborhood and $500 could get you an nice apartment-BUT be sure it is secure and in a gated community. Petty theft is common in Costa Rica. Pay someone like Ann (me) to explain the good and bad about the most popular areas where North Americans settle.
Second-Dont ship your furniture to Costa Rica. Store it until you make up your mind if Costa Rica is for you. There is lots nice furniture to buy in Costa Rica and not too expensive.
If you are attached to your vehicle and you feel it is a very good vehicle, then consider shipping it to Costa Rica. However, the import taxes are extreme- up to 100% of the blue book value of the car. Instead- You could buy a used vehicle –lots of them around-and if you dont like CR then you can sell it.
Start Spanish lessons- lots of places to learn Spanish–On Line is a good way.. I recommend “Visual Spanish” and then you can practice with your neighbors.
GET A LAWYER WHO SPEAKS FLUENT ENGLISH and one which is reputable and highly recommended. Ann can help you with this. Talk to him up front about his fees.
Why would you need a lawyer? If you choose to get your residency in Costa Rica you will need a lawyer to do all the paper work. Note: you can stay legally in CR for 90 days then you must leave for 72 hours..most people go to Panama and spend these 72 hours. Wait until you have been in the country for 12 months before you decide to proceed with the residency papers (to give yourself time to know it you like Costa Rica enough to live there all the time) Residency papers are expensive–around $2500-$3000 for the entire process.
Can I open a bank account in Costa Rica? Yes you can. You need your passport and tell the bank where the money is coming from. (however you need to remember when you do your US tax return to state you have a foreign bank account…your accountant and help you with this.
When should I consider buying a house in C Rica….this is a BIG question. I say…not for a long time..easier to rent and there are plenty places to rent. And if you don’t like where you live–well move to where you do want to live!
How do I get to know people and make new friends? There are lots of clubs for the English speakers..and if you live in a community of English Speakers there are very socialbe. Also, Costa Rican are also very sociable. They like to have parties and will invite you if they get to know you.
If you could pick one place to go to live –where would it be? I suggest Grecia..a mountain community about 30 minutes north of the international airport which is located in Alajuela
Why? Because of the great climate 70-75 degrees F. year round…picturesque surroundings, large community English speakers–and also the Costa Rican people there love North American and you can get involved in the Grecia Community of Costa Ricans and make a difference. Also it is 2 hours from the central pacific beaches. Great shopping is in Alajuela and only 25 minutes away.
Grecia has its own local grocery stores and week end farmers market. It has a beautiful park facing the gorgeous red metal church in the center of town. There are lots local stores downtown which is really one city block. It has a hospital and a medical clinic. In other words –it is easy and nice to live in Grecia. The surroundings are sugar can plantations.
Climate is not hot–it is breezy and cool.
How much money do I need to live per month? Depends on your life style. $2000 for a couple will allow you to live well–IF–you shop your fruits and veges at the week end farmers market. And don’t eat a lot of meat (which is very expensive- for example chicken is $4 pound) Other expensive items –ice cream–good quality cheeses–and anything imported and pre-packaged.
Electricity is an expensive item–however you do not need air conditioning nor heating.
You can have your house cleaned once a week for $3 per hour–dont hire a full time maid. Because it can become quite expensive. A live in costs with all benefits and food over $500 per month.
You can hire a gardener for $3 per hour.
Gasoline is $5.50 per gallon (one of your biggest expenditures)
Medical insurance- you can join the socialized medical insurance..cost is determined by your income…aver $100 per person..you will get care at your local heath care clinic. If need surgery or extensive x rays you go to one of the Gov hospitals.. there are long wait lists for these test.
Also you can purchase a health insurance policy which will allow you to be attended at the private hospitals in Costa Rica. I have a very good internist who works at Cima Hospital in Escazu (western suburb of San Jose) He charges me flat $60 for an office visit. My dentist is in Alajuela and is fees are MUCH cheaper than anywhere in USA and he is good. He teaches denistry at the University of Costa Rica
So after you have been in Costa Rica for 12 months–you will know by then–if it is for you or not.
If you wish you can email Ann with questions. firstname.lastname@example.org