Moving to Costa Rica is an excellent choice for those who fancy packing it all in and relocating to their own piece of paradise. Many people choose to retire there in order to enjoy the superb climate, breathtaking vistas and warmth of the Costa Rican people. Unlike many Central and South American countries, Costa Rica enjoys a stable government and peaceful lifestyle. The country does not have an army and Costa Ricans are extremely friendly and full of joie de vivre. It is sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Central America.
Although the cost of living is lower than it would be in Canada or the United States, it should be remembered that Costa Rica is the most expensive Central American country. That being said, current exchange rates are extremely favorable with one American dollar buying you 485 Costa Rican colones. (October 2005)
Before you get too carried away dreaming of the enormous mansion you can buy for $5000, let’s put these figures into context: going to the movies costs 1575 colones and a pint of milk costs about 200 colones. Real estate prices naturally vary from region to region and depend on both your patience and the seller’s desperation. A three bedroom house in a nice neighborhood in the capital city of San Jose will cost in the region of $150,000 to $500,000USD. A home on the Atlantic coast runs in the region of $50,000 to $250,000USD while Pacific coast residences are slightly more expensive.
Of course, the ultimate fantasy for those thinking of moving to Costa Rica is a house on the beach. The good news is that there are plenty of these available, but it should be pointed out that Costa Rican law dictates that the beaches are for everyone to enjoy. The first 50m or 164 feet of land above the mean high tide line are public land and accessible to anyone without restriction. You’ll have to shop elsewhere if you were envisaging a private getaway. Moving to Costa Rica on a permanent basis is a relatively straightforward procedure compared to emigrating to the United States or England. You can, quite literally, turn up on a tourist visa and apply for permanent residency. It is wise to do a bit of planning beforehand as all your official documents will need to be translated into Spanish and notarized. This is easier to do from Costa Rica itself as it eliminates the need for a Costa Rican notary to verify the work of the notary you used. The Costa Rican Embassy or Consulate in your home country will have more specific information.
If you are thinking of moving to Costa Rica to retire, you will need to have sufficient funds in your bank account to accommodate and allowance of $600USD a month for 5 years. Those moving for work will need to be able to prove an income of at least $1000 per month in support of their Permanent Residency Status application. Although it is legal it is not advisable to move before you have secured adequate employment.
So, beautiful scenery, friendly people, favorable tax laws and a stable, welcoming government; what more could an émigré want?