Costa Rica has been hosting retirees and other expats for more than 30 years, and all the reasons why this Central American gem first attracted those seeking a better life abroad back then still hold true today.
As a safe and stable country, with no army, Costa Rica welcomes foreigners with open arms. People are friendly and happy. The unofficial national motto, Pura Vida, means “life is good.” And that laidback attitude permeates daily life in the country. It’s a stress-free, relaxed existence.
Because expats have been living here for so long, it’s an easy transition. You don’t have to be a pioneer or figure things out—services and modern conveniences are available. And it’s easy to make friends with both locals and expats.
Getting residence is a straightforward process in Costa Rica. For retirees, the pensionado program requires an income of just $1,000 per month from Social Security, a pension, disability, or another similar source. That covers the applicant and a dependent spouse. It’s the perfect solution for long-term living in Costa Rica.
One of the major benefits of Costa Rica is the lower cost of living. “For between $2,000 and $3,000 per month, a retired couple can live well and cover all expenses without scrimping,” says IL’s Roving Latin America Editor Jason Holland. “For example, you can fill your fridge with fresh produce from farmers’ markets for about $35 per week…property taxes are just 0.25% of the home’s assessed value…a decent meal at a local restaurant will run you $5 per plate…and rents start at $400 per month for fully-furnished condos or homes in nice areas.”
Costa Rica also has a wide variety of climates, landscapes, and lifestyles. So there’s really something for everybody. Whether you want a temperate climate in the mountains, in small farming communities…or would rather chill out in a bustling beach town where there’s always a party going on…there’s a place for you in Costa Rica.
One of the major reasons Costa Rica is so attractive to retirees is the highly-rated healthcare. All the latest technology is available, and doctors are trained in the latest techniques. There are two healthcare systems in the country. Legal residents, in the pensionado retiree visa program for example, join the government-run healthcare system known as Caja, which has a network of clinics and hospitals throughout the country. After you pay a monthly fee based on income, your care is free. You can also pay cash or use insurance to access private medical providers in Costa Rica, including clinics, hospitals, and individual doctors. Even in this system, the costs are a fraction of what you might pay in the U.S.