Your Guide to Moving to Costa Rica

Planning a move to Costa Rica and want to see what their expat life is all about? Thinking of buying property in Costa Rica either for you or as a long-term investment? You’re in the right place.

Costa Rica is an amazing country with tropical beaches, wonderful weather, and hospitable people. Many expats are moving to this beautiful country because it has an affordable healthcare system and the cost of living is much lower than what they are currently paying, especially if they are living in the United States.

Furthermore, since the real estate scene is continuously developing and the prices for apartments and houses are significantly lower than in other parts of the globe, Costa Rica is now on the radar of numerous investors ready to either start a booming business or retire here.

Here is everything you need to know about moving to Costa Rica. This guide will help you get prepared for the move, discuss residency, and make sure you have everything in order to enjoy a happy life in Costa Rica.

Work Permits and Visas

To live in Costa Rica, you will need a visa or a work permit. If you are coming for a visit before you decide to move here, you will not need to get a tourist visa as a US citizen. You can stay 90 days, but you will need proof of a return plane ticket.

visa

If you are planning to retire in Costa Rica, you need to show you are receiving at least $1,000 a month on a pension or through your retirement program. This is called the Pensionado Program. Retirees can apply for temporary residency if they meet this requirement.

You can also be approved under the Rentista Program if you can prove a monthly income of $2,500 or more or you can deposit $60,000 into a Costa Rican bank account.

Costa Rica also has a digital nomad visa that works better for people looking to travel and work at the same time. You will need to show that you make $3,000 a month if you are single or $5,000 a month if you are married or have a dependent. A digital nomad visa allows you to have a local bank account and get a driver’s license which is extremely convenient.

Housing Tips and Prices

Costa Rica’s housing market is much more affordable than the United States. Each city and region has slightly different housing prices. Major cities are usually the most sought-after, so you can expect higher prices in the capital city and other important urban areas.

If you want to live downtown, housing will be more expensive than if you are planning to move to a more rural part of the country. However, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center will not cost you more than $500 a month if you’re not looking for something too fancy. Outside of the city center, you can pay $350 or less for a one-bedroom apartment.

beautiful home with pool

Where Should I Live in Costa Rica?

You can live anywhere you want, but most people like to live in a city and enjoy a quality of life similar to the one they had while living back home, in North America. Furthermore, this allows you to make friends easily and have access to modern facilities. You can meet up with fellow expats who can give you tips and expert advice on where to go shopping, what doctors to visit, what international schools to use, and many other things you might need for a comfortable life in Costa Rica.

Escazu

Many foreign investors, retirees, and expats live in Escazu, which is close to the capital city of San Jose. The area provides easy access to amenities similar to the ones offered by modern cities in the U.S., Canada, and Western European countries. It also has a lively night scene and an impressive restaurant scene. Since it’s situated in the Central Valley, the weather is not as hot as it would be if you were to live in an expat community or residential ensemble by the beach.

Escazu

Tamarindo

Tamarindo is on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. It’s a beautiful beach town perfect for those who love the sun and surfing. It’s also a huge wildlife town if that interests you. It has a large nightlife scene, and the real estate scene is spectacular. The town has a large community of expats and provides a wide range of real estate investment possibilities. From cute bungalows by the beach to luxurious villas offering breathtaking ocean views, if you love the sea and sun, Tamarindo is definitely the place for you.

Atenas

Atenas is smaller than some of the other cities on this list, but it’s still one of the most important expat towns in Costa Rica. It’s about halfway to the beach and San Jose so you get a good mix of everything. Atenas is popular among people who want to retire in a tropical destination, away from it all, while still maintaining access to modern amenities and everything necessary for a relaxing and healthy life.

Heredia

Heredia is a little bit north of San Jose. It’s popular with expats because of the abundance of outdoor activities. It has a quieter atmosphere than San Jose but is still close enough to the city to make sure you can get everything you need.

Heredia, Costa Rica

Can I Bring My Pets and Belongings with Me?

If you are planning to move to Costa Rica, you’ll probably want to bring your belongings with you. Most people also move with their pets as it can be hard to leave them behind. Moving a pet to Costa Rica is much easier than moving them to other countries.

For example, your pet doesn’t need to have a microchip or be quarantined before being allowed to be back with you. You will need to make sure all their vaccinations are up to date, though, as well as have a certificate of health for them from a veterinarian.

Small pets can fly on the plane with you in a small carrier. They will need to be able to fit under the seat. Larger animals have to be placed in the hold which is more expensive. Make sure you read the airline’s requirements. It might also be a good idea to read reviews about the airline in regards to pets to make sure your pet will be well taken care of when placed in the hold.

You can also bring along your household items with you on the plane or have them shipped. Either way, you will need to have receipts and documents for the items to prove that they are yours.

pets

Healthcare in Costa Rica

Whenever moving to a foreign country, many people wonder what healthcare will be like. Costa Rica is said to have some of the best healthcare in Latin America. Expats and investors who want to access the universal healthcare system, though, will need first to become permanent residents.

Visitors and temporary residents can access the private healthcare system, which costs a little bit extra, but it is reliable and offers access to medical professionals who speak English. Even the private system is much more affordable than in the United States or Western Europe countries. Some people choose to go back to America for certain treatments, but Costa Rica successfully covers all the healthcare needs you could think of.

Final Thoughts

More and more are choosing to move to Costa Rica because of the affordable cost of living, lovely weather, and gorgeous scenery. Getting a visa for Costa Rica is very straightforward as long as you can prove your monthly income, and so is getting permanent residency if you do your homework and comply with the requirements.

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