How to retire in Costa Rica: 10 steps to follow

Manzanillo's Caribbean Coast in Costa Rica. Credit International Living

Manzanillo’s Caribbean Coast in Costa Rica. Credit International Living

How to retire in Costa Rica: 10 steps to follow

This year, for the first time in the 26-year history of International’s Global Retirement Index, Costa Rica took the top spot. Perfect year-round tropical climate, a choice of Caribbean or Pacific beaches, mountains and volcanoes, big cities and nightlife or tranquil rural settings, state-of-the-art healthcare at about one third the cost of the U.S., and an affordable cost of living all combine to make this little Central American country the world’s top retirement haven. The editors of International Living have put together a 10-step starters’ guide with everything you need to know about moving to Costa Rica.


Step 1 – Do Some Basic Research

Attracted by the low cost of living, excellent healthcare, beautiful beaches, and lush valleys, there are more than 16,000 U.S. expats living in Costa Rica in 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.

Here’s some fast facts to get you started:

  • Capital: San Jose
  • Climate: Tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands.
  • Government: Democratic republic.
  • Language: Spanish (official), English

Step 2 – Make a list of your personal priorities and preferences

“Where is the best place to live in Costa Rica?” This is perhaps the question IL editors are asked the most.

Make a list of your priorities—it’s important to find a place that satisfies more than just one priority.

Step 3 – Make a list of top destinations in Costa Rica

Though Costa Rica is a small country, there is tremendous variety of landscapes, lifestyles, and climates in each of its regions.

  • Living in the Central Valley means you’ll have easy access to the amenities of the capital, San José.
  • In the Arenal region, about three hours northwest of the capital in the Northern Highlands region, expats have settled on the green hills rising from the lakeshore.
  • The Gold Coast on the north Pacific is home to many expat enclaves like Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, and Playas del Coco, as well as sleepy fishing villages, surfing hotspots, resort towns, and more.
  • For the beach lover, the Nicoya Peninsula juts out into the Pacific.
  • Island vibe on the laidback Caribbean side of Costa Rica.
  • The Central Pacific has some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Jacó is a major resort town and expat hotspot.

Step 4 – Consider the pluses and minuses of each location

International Living’s Costa Rica pages share excellent insights and information— Costa Rica

Check out IL Costa Rica Facebook page. This is a great way to get in touch with other IL readers and all IL editors.

Step 5 – Apply for your visa

U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica as a tourist.  But there are some popular residence options—Pensionado Program, The Rentista Program, and the Inversionista Program.

After three years as a temporary resident in one of the categories above, you can apply for permanent resident status.

The full report which includes 5 extra steps on How to Move to Costa Rica can be found here: How to Retire in Costa Rica: 10 Steps to Follow

Source = International Living
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