Escape to Costa Rica

Escape to Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, there is no Retirement Crisis. In Fact, North American Retirees Say They Now Live Better Than Ever…

Rick and Peggy Stewart found warm weather, great friends, a relaxed lifestyle, their dream home with a view, and a low cost of living in Costa Rica. And the transition—with so many welcoming locals and expats—was easy…

Dear Reader,

"We felt at home here from the first time we visited," says Peggy. "Everybody is so accepting. It's so social. We've made more friends here in 16 months—Costa Rican and expat—than we did in 10 years in Alberta."

Rick and Peggy Stewart were looking for an escape from cold weather…and Costa Rica fit the bill.

But it wasn't just the tropical climate that convinced them to move—this nation ticked a lot of other boxes too. It’s safe, affordable, First World comforts are available—as are nice homes at good prices—and they could have an active social life.

Perhaps most importantly, though—thanks to its 30+ years as a popular retirement destination—Costa Rica is already "set up" for expats. The Stewarts say they enjoyed a quick-and-easy adjustment period. And that meant they were enjoying retirement very soon after they made their move.

Today they are living better than they ever did in Canada. And after renting for two years, they bought a home with incredible views just outside the village of Atenas in the Central Valley region for well under $200,000.

Now they've put down permanent roots in a community that welcomed them with open arms.

"The ‘networking’ here is amazing," says Peggy. "The national motto should be ‘I know a guy’ because you can find all sorts of help by just asking neighbors, friends, or people you’ve just met in town. You need a fence put up? Somebody is sure to say, ‘I know a guy.’"

Not only is Costa Rica "easy," but it’s remarkably affordable, too. Rick and Peggy report that their retirement fund goes further than it would've back home.

Says Peggy, "Thanks to the climate, we have no AC or heating bill. And groceries are cheaper here because there's an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed products."

Many of their fellow expats report they live well for around $1,950 a month per couple, including housing costs.

Of course, for a lot of folks, Costa Rica’s warm weather is the big draw. And for good reason.

Rick was a forest ranger back in Canada—30 years working outside, year-round. Suffice it to say: He and Peggy had had enough of the cold.

They found their ideal climate in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Perfect weather—hovering around 80 degrees 365 days a year—means they live outdoors, enjoying meals, talking, reading, and taking in their view of the surrounding farm land and forest.

Time has slowed down for the couple and the hassles of daily life they used to face have melted away.

"We can do as little or as much as we want. We choose our own pace. It’s very much a return to an old-fashioned way of life," says Peggy.

The Easiest and Most Proven Overseas
Retirement Destination

The Stewarts are just two of an estimated 70,000 North Americans living in Costa Rica—more if you count part-timers. The safety, climate, the friendly people (both locals and expats), and the good-value cost of living are just some of the factors that have attracted foreign residents for more than three decades.

Costa Rica has a lot going for it, no question…

  • There’s bargain real estate. Even desirable ocean-view or mountain-view homes can be had for under $100,000. Rents start at $400—and that's fully furnished, by the way. Sacrifice a view outside your back porch and you can buy for $85,000.
  • A long record of safety and stability. Costa Rica has had no army since 1948, and a strong democratic government since then.
  • Top-quality affordable healthcare. In the just-released 2019 Bloomberg Global Health study of the world's healthiest countries, Costa Rica ranks as the healthiest country in Central America...ranking ahead of the U.S. And when it comes to overall healthcare efficiency, says Bloomberg, Costa Rica ranks well ahead of the U.S. And the really good news: You can qualify for the CAJA national health system that provides comprehensive coverage, no matter your age.
  • Slightly smaller than West Virginia, this tiny country hosts a huge variety of climates and landscapes: palm-tree lined deserted beaches, steamy rain forests, high mountain forests, hillside farms, and more. There’s something for everybody.
  • A community for every lifestyle—from bustling market towns to isolated beachside outposts to big city suburbs to quiet farming villages—and everything in between. You can find an escape here that suits you perfectly.
  • Natural beauty that won’t ever disappear. Development in Costa Rica is sustainable thanks to a commitment to conservation made by the government and private landowners. A full quarter of this nation’s land is set aside as national park or private reserve.

Hi, my name is Jason Holland, the Roving Latin America editor for International Living. I had the privilege of living and working in Costa Rica full-time with my family for nearly five years. In my time there, I crisscrossed the country, checking out regions and towns, interviewing expats of all walks of life, and keeping abreast of all the issues affecting foreign residents.

And let me tell you, the list of reasons why Costa Rica is a great place to retire, start a business, work, start a new chapter of your life—whatever your goal—just keeps getting longer.

One of the biggest benefits is that the "trail" has been blazed for you in Costa Rica by decades’ worth of expats, and all you have to do is follow in their footsteps.

That makes Costa Rica something I like to call:

Latin America for Beginners

A Costa Rica Snapshot

1. The army was abolished by constitutional amendment in 1948, with the money going to education and healthcare instead. And the country has been a peaceful and stable democracy ever since.

2.Officially citizens of Costa Rica are costarricenses. But most just call themselves tico, for a man, or tica, for a woman.

3. Costa Rica is a small country, about the size of West Virginia, but it has an amazing 5% of the world’s animal species—more than 500,000 in all. That makes it one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

4. Costa Rica generates more than 90% of its energy through renewable sources like wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric.

There’s no need for you to be a "pioneer" when it comes to moving to Costa Rica.

English is widely spoken…by plumbers…mechanics…doctors…real estate agents…shopkeepers…and more. You’ll have all the modern conveniences you’re used to like cable and satellite TV (with many channels in English), high-speed internet, smartphones, and American foods and other products in stores and restaurants.

And you’ll also find plenty of communities full of fellow expats where friendships come fast thanks to the common bond of moving overseas. That means you’ll have a very active social life—and don’t forget all your new local friends too. Costa Ricans are very friendly people—in fact, a new study from the World Economic Forum found Costa Rica to be one of the most welcoming countries in the world to foreigners.

The bottom line is that Costa Rica and its people are used to "gringos" and you will be a welcome addition to any community. And your transition will be much easier here than if you moved to many other countries. In Costa Rica, you’ll quickly discover—and appreciate:

  • The Pura Vida attitude (in a nutshell: life is good) and laidback lifestyle that Costa Rica is known for. It permeates daily life—in stark contrast to the high stress and focus on money we have in North America.
  • Cost of living remains very reasonable. A couple can live comfortably on $1,950 a month, including housing costs. And trips for weekly groceries won’t break the bank.
  • And residence is easy to secure. Retirees need just $1,000 a month per couple from Social Security or a pension to qualify. If you're not yet at retirement age, you can seek rentista residence, which requires $2,500 a month in interest income from an investment like a certificate of deposit or a one-time deposit of $60,000 in a Costa Rican bank.

That’s the short list.

But let’s dig in a little more…

The Central Valley Offers Convenience and Comfort

Though Costa Rica is a small country, there is tremendous variety of landscapes, lifestyles, and climates in each of its regions. Whether you want to live in a bustling market town, in a rural village, on your own farm, in the jungle, on the beach, in a cliff-side ocean-view condo, or on top of a mountain with 100-mile views—you can find your dream location in Costa Rica.

Expat Profile: Sharon Harris, Heredia, Central Valley

"After living in Las Vegas for almost 40 years it wasn’t easy to leave. But we knew if we waited much longer we would never do it. We wanted our dollars to stretch, and we wanted affordable medical care. And Heredia suits our needs perfectly.

"The weather is very mild year-round. No need for heat or air conditioning in our home. There are two beautiful shopping centers: PriceSmart (Costco) and Walmart. We pay approximately $100 per month for electricity, water, cable, internet, a neighborhood guard, and maid service."

By far the most popular place with expats is the Central Valley. And with all the advantages I’m about to share, it’s not hard to understand why. No wonder AARP once named the Central Valley one of the top 10 places to retire in the whole world.

In a word, the Central Valley is convenient.

The main international airport in the country, Juan Santamaria, is there, which makes trips to and from home—and picking up visitors from the airport—a breeze. Then because the Valley is, well, centrally-located, you can be anywhere else in the country in about six hours or less by car—less than an hour by plane. The closest tropical beach, Punta Leona, is an hour away and you can be deep in rain forest covered mountains in half the time.

Then there’s the medical care. The best hospitals in both the public and private systems, including the Joint Commission International-accredited CIMA Hospital, as well as the top doctors, including specialists in every discipline, are found in and around San José, the country's capital. If you have a chronic medical condition or just want the peace of mind of living a short ride from top medical care—this is your place.

The best part is that while the big city conveniences are just around the corner, you don’t have to live in an urban area. Much of the Valley is still very rural, dotted with small towns and villages. You get the best of both worlds. Atenas, where Rick and Peggy live, is a perfect example. It's a small village surrounded by forest and farm land with a charming town center of shops, restaurants, and a tree-filled central park where much of the town's social activity takes place.

The fact that the Central Valley has a mild, temperate climate year-round is just icing on the cake. It never gets too hot, never too cold. The temperatures never get above 85 during the day and it cools down into the 60s at night, so you don't have to use heat or AC, which keeps your electric bill way down.

Lakeside Living, Beaches, and Jungle…

The weather is good in the Arenal region, too. Like the Central Valley (which is about three hours southeast), it has a very mild, spring-like climate year-round. But this area is dominated by two very striking geographic features: a cone volcano that looms on the horizon (active but not dangerous) and a 33-square-mile lake around which most expats here have settled.

A lake like this in the U.S. would be overrun by shoreline development, busy marinas, buzzing Jet-skis, and chugging powerboats. But here there is rarely any boat traffic. And the shore is virtually untouched. Instead homes dot the pasture and tree-covered green hills that slope gently to the water. Life on the lake is peaceful, a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors and your view. If you like the idea of a quiet retreat, this secret hideaway might fit the bill.

Retirees and other expats here have clustered in gated communities and individual homes around the very small town of Nuevo Arenal on the lakeshore. A gas station, pharmacy, bank, grocery store, hardware store, a few restaurants…it has everything you need for daily living.

It's a close-knit community where everybody seems to know everybody.

"I’ve never been happier," says Bob Lux, a retiree who lives in Arenal with his wife Stacy. "I meet so many people from the U.S., Europe, and all over the world."

Bob sometimes jokes that he always bumps into people he knows when he's running errands. So even if he was just running out to the grocery store, it might take him a couple of hours to make it back home because of all the people he’ll stop to chat with on the way.

Then again, maybe what you have in mind is the "classic" Costa Rica you see on postcards and tourist-board posters. In that case, head south to the Southern Zone region. Lush, jungle-clad mountains cascade dramatically down to the beach and the wild blue Pacific. The steamy rain forest is home to thousands of species like howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, chestnut-mandibled toucans, blue morpho butterflies, and more.

And expats live surrounded by it all, in homes scattered in the jungle on the hills above the sea—cooled by sea breezes. The 180-degree ocean-view is the most desirable—and it is surprisingly affordable, as you’ll see in just a moment.

One of the most popular spots for expats in the Southern Zone is Ojochal. It's a very small village, a cluster of shops, restaurants, and homes in the jungle just off the coast road.

Ocean Views and Landscaped Gardens

Anna Fishel lives in the heart of Ojochal.

"My home is on just under an acre of land in the jungle. There is a small view of the ocean, but the real attraction for me was that the house is set among beautifully landscaped gardens," says Anna. "I like to say that I bought a lovely tropical garden that happened to have a house tucked in amongst the beauty."

And she's enjoying her retirement to the full.

"I’m finally reading books that have been on my to-read list for 20 years," says Anna. "I have no idea how long I spend having coffee, watching the birds have their breakfast, looking up birds in my guide, pulling those ever present weeds, or hanging laundry on the line. I am really enjoying ending a day and feeling like it was full in a simplistic way and that no one, in particular not me, needs a detailed account of the day's activities." 

In Ojochal, you can do your grocery shopping, buy fresh-caught fish (about $4 a pound for snapper), and, surprisingly to most visitors, enjoy some of the best gourmet food in Costa Rica. You see, many expats here were cooks or chefs back home—or just had an interest in food—and they've opened restaurants showcasing a variety of world cuisines, including Indonesian, French, Italian, and Mexican.

With so many ocean-view homes—not to mention bars and restaurants—in the hills of this region, it's no wonder that watching the sunset has become a daily ritual for many expats here. And it's often celebrated with friends over a glass of wine.

We’ve really just touched the surface of the many places where you can make a home in Costa Rica. You’ll find expats in just about every corner of the country.

  • There's the Gold Coast on the north Pacific, which 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. It also has the country's second international airport in the inland city of Liberia, the provincial capital where you can access a lot of government services.
  • If you're a beach lover and have a bohemian streak, you might check out the Nicoya Peninsula, which juts out into the Pacific. The funky beach towns of Nosara, Samara, Malpais, and Montezuma are centers for yoga, surfing, and just plain relaxing on the beach. The peninsula is also one of the world’s Blue Zones where residents live longer on average thanks to diet, climate, and lifestyle.
  • Switching coasts, we come to the laidback Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Thanks to the many Jamaican immigrants in the area and lack of any large-scale development, it has a genuine island vibe. And many locals speak English. Homes can be found in the jungle, a short walk from warm water and white sandy beaches.
  • Finally, we come to the Central Pacific, a region that offers quick access to the shopping and medical care in the Central Valley, with some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica in your backyard. Jacó is a major resort town and expat hotspot, a walkable community with a plethora of bars, restaurants, and nightspots. More sedate Manuel Antonio to the south is a community that sits on either side of a two-lane road that hugs the hills above the water. It ends in one of Costa Rica's best-loved national parks.

In just a moment, you’ll learn how you can get a comprehensive look at all of these regions—and more—to find which matches your lifestyle. But first, I want to pass on something I know is very important to anybody considering an overseas move.

U.S.-Level Medical Care—at Developing-World Prices

In these days of high-cost insurance, government squabbling over medical care, and doctors who don’t have more than five minutes to spend with a patient, the medical care in Costa Rica is a breath of fresh air.

Expat Profile: Paul and Gloria Yeatman and Their Adventures in the Public Healthcare System

Since moving to San Ramon, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, five years ago Paul and Gloria Yeatman have become wholehearted proponents of the country’s universal healthcare system, known as Caja. They visit the local clinic, staffed by a doctor, nurses, and a pharmacist, when they’re ill or need a prescription. They get flu shots from the nurse who travels around on his motorcycle giving vaccinations to rural patients.

And when Gloria needed a surgery to remove an infected lymph node, she didn’t hesitate to use the public hospital in San Ramon. The surgery went great and Gloria was given a clean bill of health.

It’s common for you to have your doctor’s cell phone number, doctors make house calls, and it all costs a fraction of what it would in the U.S.

As an expat in Costa Rica, you have the choice of two medical systems: the government-run universal healthcare and a private system.

Both have been consistently rated among the best in Latin America. The doctors—most of whom speak English—have been trained in all the newest techniques. They have all the latest diagnostic equipment and surgical tools. And compared to the U.S., the care you’ll receive in Costa Rica is superior in several ways.

First, the cost.

In the private system, doctor’s visits are $50, even for house calls, and major surgeries like knee replacements or heart bypasses are a third or less of what they would cost back home. And that's if you're paying cash. Private hospitals and doctors also take insurance from many U.S., Canadian, and European insurance companies.

In the public system, the savings are even higher. As a legal resident you join the Caja system, paying a low monthly fee based on income (most expats arriving today pay under $200 per couple). After that ALL your care is free, from doctor’s visits, diagnostic testing, prescriptions, and major surgeries.

But more than the cost of medical care, you’ll notice a huge difference in your personal experience with the doctors.

In Costa Rica, you don’t wait an hour reading old issues of People magazine before being called in to see the doctor for five minutes, leaving with a prescription you’re not sure you need, and still confused over the diagnosis.

Instead, your doctors spend time with you: a half-hour, an hour—whatever it takes to answer all your questions and plan your treatment.

It’s what healthcare used to be back in the U.S. But you can get it in Costa Rica today.

It’s just one reason that Costa Ricans have a very positive outlook on life. That attitude has given the entire country a kind of nickname…

The Land of Pura Vida

What makes a place special? You really have to start with the people.

Costa Ricans live by the country’s motto: Pura Vida. Literally it translates to "pure life." But it means so much more than that. The closest approximation might be "life is good."

It means that Costa Ricans work to live, they don’t live to work. And they truly value time with family and friends.

Costa Ricans have been named the happiest people in the world. In a survey that considered quality of life, not economic measures like GDP or per capita income, Costa Rica has come out on top in the latest Happy Planet Index. They’re actually three-time winners, having garnered the top spot in 2012 and 2009 as well.

When you move to Costa Rica, that Pura Vida attitude is sure to rub off on you too. The stress of "keeping up with the Joneses" by buying the latest car or electronic gadget will disappear.

You’ll also be in good company in the many established expat communities you’ll find throughout the country where fellowship and friendships are the top priorities.

Here you’ll make easy friends because you have a common bond. You’ve all moved out of your home country for a new life in Costa Rica.

That’s a recipe for fast friendships at the many restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and community centers that have sprung up around the country to play host to expat groups. They play cards, craft, plan trips, or just talk over coffee. At Kay’s Gringo Postres in the Central Valley town of Atenas, for example, they do all that and have an annual chili cook-off as well, with the money raised going to the local community.

And don't forget all the local friends you'll make as well. Costa Ricans are friendly and curious about where you come from and proud you chose their country for your new home. You'll soon be part of local festivals and celebrations—places where a smile can overcome any language barrier.

On a practical level, thanks to your new friends—both local and expat—you'll have a built-in network to get the best plumbers and car mechanics, the inside track on real estate deals, and contacts to get locals-only deals in shops and restaurants.

And that makes it easier to embrace another advantage of living in Costa Rica…

Live Well on $1,950 a Month

This is probably one of the biggest benefits of moving to Costa Rica for retirees on fixed incomes—or anyone else just looking to get back to a reasonable monthly budget.

A couple can enjoy a great lifestyle with plenty of comforts, without scrimping, for around $1,950 a month—including housing and transportation costs. Spend a bit more and you can enjoy luxuries like an ocean-view home, weekly gourmet meals, and visits to the spa.

Take a couple we know on the northern Pacific coast. By moving to Costa Rica they cut their living expenses by 65%—and they live just a five minute walk from a beautiful beach. Paul and Gloria Yeatman live on less than $2,000 a month—sometimes much less. And that includes housing and transportation, and all other costs.

The key to saving money in Costa Rica is to live—and shop—like a local. The average annual income for locals is, after all, less than $15,000 a year. And they manage to dress well and feed large families.

When it comes to food shopping you can save 50% or more on your grocery bill by forgoing specialty imported food at the grocery store in favor of the weekly feria, or farmers’ market. You buy what’s in season and local, fresh from the farm produce often sold to you by the very farmer who grew the crop.

Expat Profile: Denice K., Atenas

"We chose Atenas because it has some of the best weather in the world, and we love being outdoors. It's a pretty liberating feeling knowing you can live a retired kind of lifestyle—in the tropics—at ages 41 and 45...and afford to live your dream."

Try pineapples for a dollar—compared to $4 to $5 in the U.S. Or huge bunches of herbs like cilantro and basil for 50 cents. My family of four usually spendt about $40 at the feria and had enough to last the week—and then some.

Meals out can be a bargain too. Filling meals of local staples like rice, beans, salad, and your choice of beef, chicken, or fish will set you back $4 -$5. And if you want to treat yourself, why not try a grass-fed steak that’ll rival anything in a U.S. high-end steakhouse for just $12.

Then there are the little luxuries you can afford in Costa Rica that you maybe couldn’t back home. Maid service comes out to $4 an hour. A gardener to tend the tropical paradise in your backyard—again, around $4 an hour.

In short, you can live the good life in Costa Rica, for much, much less. And that extends to real estate—

Your Dream Home for $150,000 or Less

When the real estate Bubble burst several years back, and prices dropped dramatically in places like California, Florida, and elsewhere—the same thing happened in Costa Rica. And you still have the upper hand—it’s very much a buyer’s market.

In the Southern Zone, for example, that Pacific coast area known for the dramatic, mountainous coastline and virtually empty beaches, you can have an ocean-view home for just $200,000—compare that coastal southern California or Florida, where similar properties go into the millions.

That includes floor to ceiling tempered glass, exposed concrete walls, wooden veneers and spacious open areas. And you're surrounded by jungle, with monkeys, toucans, sloths, and other wildlife that make your backyard their home.

Picture yourself relaxing on a lounger on your back porch, watching the sun set over the Pacific, glass of wine in hand.

If life by the beach isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options:

Heading up into the hills and mountains of the Central Valley, we have the bustling market town of Grecia…

  • In the tranquil countryside, but close to the town center, is a three-bed, 2-bath home with a large closed patio. The interior is bright and cozy with beautiful porcelain floors at the entrance, dining room and kitchen. It's just $129,000.

On the shores of pristine Lake Arenal, you have another dream home—if a quiet rural existence is what you're looking for…

  • A newly remodelled home with two-bedrooms, that overlooks the lake, is listed at $89,000. You're surrounded by green space but also within walking distance to all amenities and two of the best restaurants in the area.
Easy to Buy and Low Taxes, Too

Buying and owning property in Costa Rica is a breeze. Foreigners, even those without residence, have the same rights as citizens when it comes to property. And you’ll appreciate this: property taxes are a miniscule 0.25% a year—that’s just $500 a year for a $200,000 home.

And, by the way, the homes I’ve mentioned so far are all North American style and standard. For cozier and comfortable but simple "Tico-style" homes in nice neighborhoods, often with a great view, prices canstart at $38,000. You might not have granite countertops or a dishwasher, but you’ll have a very affordable place to call home.

And if you don’t want to buy right away—no problem. There are plenty of affordable rentals for long- or short-term leases. You can sample the different regions without obligation until you find your place. With rents starting at $500 a month for furnished condos and small homes—with great views, you can try life by the beach, in the mountains, by the lake, in town, or in the jungle.

And while you’re finding your spot, be sure to take advantage of all the benefits extended to retirees in Costa Rica…

Foreign Residents—Especially Retirees
—Welcomed with Open Arms

As a country, Costa Rica is just as welcoming to foreign residents as ever. No-hassle residence policies make moving here a snap. Retirees need just $1,000 a month per couple from retirement benefits, disability, and/or a pension to qualify under the pensionado program. As I mentioned earlier, it's very easy to qualify. And there are programs for those not yet ready to retire or without a pension.

Saving money is great. But you’ll also find that seniors are respected in Costa Rica—it’s ingrained in the culture.

You’ll immediately be offered a seat on a bus or in a waiting room if it’s packed. You get head of the line privileges at banks and government offices—by law. And the same courtesy will be extended at shops, restaurants, cultural events, or wherever you happen to be.

Some expats I’ve spoken with tell me that Costa Rica is a lot like the small town America they used to know when they grew up. As far as culture, they might be right. But that doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the past—

It’s a Lot like Home—in Many Ways

There will be a learning curve when you arrive in Costa Rica. This is a country with its own unique culture, customs, and ways of doing things. But in many ways it’s a lot like home, and your transition to life in your new home will likely be easier than you might think.

This is a modern country with many comforts and amenities you’ll recognize. Grocery stores offer many imported items—if you miss your Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or bagels—you’re covered. Your favorite brand-name cosmetics, clothing, and electronics are here too.

You can get high-speed internet and cable or satellite TV (cheaper than in the U.S., by the way) anywhere in the country—even in the middle of the jungle. Many shows and channels are in English and you can add on premium channels like HBO and packages for the sports like NFL football or NBA basketball.

A widespread cell phone network—with 4G and LTE—means you can bring your smartphone to Costa Rica. More basic phones start at $30 for a handset, with $20 worth of minutes getting you through the month and then some.

Keeping in touch with loved ones back home is easy too. Online tools like Skype allow for free video conferencing. And with services like MagicJack you can have a U.S. phone number in Costa Rica—and your regular home phone will ring just like it would back home.

Of course, with two international airports—one in San José and the other near the northwest Pacific coast in Liberia, getting to and from North America is no problem at all. Miami is just two-and-half hours away. And Houston, another major hub is just under four hours.

As you can see, just because you are moving to a new country doesn’t mean you have to leave all the comforts behind. In Costa Rica, you can stay very connected with those who matter to you. And whenever you want to go for a visit—or have someone visit you—it’s not as if you’re halfway around the world.

Your Guide to a New Life in Costa Rica

Still, no matter how perfect a fit for you Costa Rica may seem—I’m sure you have lots of questions. And the good news is: I’d like to answer them for you.

You don’t have to "go it alone" as you get from where you are now to your ideal life overseas.

We can help. We'll make sure you have the confidence and insider intelligence you need to pinpoint the spot that’s right for you and get there quickly, easily, seamlessly…

You see, for generations of expats, International Living has been the place to turn for accurate and timely advice. We’ve been in-country for decades. We talk to the lawyers, the government officials, the business community, and, of course, the long-time expats who know the score. Plus, like me, we live there ourselves.

That’s why we’re proud to offer you a one-of-a-kind resource called Escape to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know to Retire Better, Invest Well, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less.

It’s the essential guide to moving to and living in Costa Rica, designed specifically to make relocating here as stress-free as possible for prospective expats like you.

Save Time, Money, and Trouble and Settle in Smoothly

Inside, you’ll learn…

  • What life is like in each region—so you can match your lifestyle to your new home
  • How to secure your residence step by step—and the documents you must bring from home to avoid delays
  • The essential Spanish phrases so you can ask directions—order dinner—and make new friends
  • Little-known areas where land is cheap—but the path of progress is coming and values are rising
  • Nuts and bolts insider tips—direct from expats themselves—for daily life in Costa Rica
  • The stress-free way to get your pets to Costa Rica—it’s easier than you think—if you know the rules
  • The four things you must have to open a bank account
  • A complete rundown of the taxes you still have to pay and those you can throw out the window—in Costa Rica and at home
  • How to start a business—and the best spots for starting up your dream beach bar, restaurant, sport fishing charter, or whatever you want
  • The inside scoop on the best beachfront communities—local favorites—expat enclaves—cool weather mountain towns—and where to buy your own finca, or farm
  • The best way to scout property for sale—and what you should never do when looking at a lot or a home
  • What household goods to bring from home—and what to leave behind
  • How to negotiate a fair price for building your own home, how to find reliable contractors, and how to manage the building process if you’re still in North America
  • And that’s just a small taste…

Plus, you’ll get a Rolodex of contacts throughout Costa Rica—all of whom speak English—in fact, many are from the U.S. or Canada. You’ll have these resources on speed-dial:

  • Lawyers experienced in immigration
  • Trusted real estate agents
  • Shipping brokers who know how to deal with Customs
  • Expat groups from coast to coast, from the American Legion to community theater
  • Insurance companies who will cover you in Costa Rica
  • Phone numbers for the major public and private hospitals—including the emergency lines
  • And more…

Real-World, Insider Advice and Guidance

You may be used to a more "do it yourself" approach to matters like buying a house or car, signing up for insurance, or dealing with the government back home. But in Costa Rica you’ll need a representative who knows the rules and regulations—basically how things work.

These are the on-the-ground contacts well-versed in helping expats get settled in Costa Rica. They know the right people. They know the little-used but perfectly legal exceptions to the rules. In short, they make your move easy.

That’s what Escape to Costa Rica is all about. All the information you need to make informed decisions. No need to search high and low for information.

Of course, there’s no substitute for an in-person visit. And that’s why we’ve ensured that Escape to Costa Rica is the ideal resource for planning those trips. You’ll get a good idea of which regions you want to visit. And you’ll know where to stay, who to talk to, and everything else as you explore.

The bottom line is that Costa Rica has been an expat destination for decades for good reason. It offers a combination of low cost of living, bargain real estate, perfect climate, and high quality—and cheap—medical care—all in a beautiful setting.

And because generations of expats have blazed the trail, moving there has never been easier, especially when you have the inside track given to you by Escape to Costa Rica.

There’s never been a better time to make the leap, and this resource can help you get there.

Special Extra when You Take a Look Today

Even better, when you order your copy of Escape to Costa Rica today, we’ll toss in a special report, Costa Rica Connections: Expat Case Studies on Retirement, Quality of Life, and Living Overseas, on the house.

In this exclusive bonus, you’ll meet many expats who’ve moved to Costa Rica for many different reasons, whether they were seeking cheap medical care, a lower cost of living, relief from a stressful day-to-day life in North America, or many other motivations. And from their experiences, the problems they solved, and how they navigated the "system" in Costa Rica, you’ll shorten your learning curve to do the same things. It’s kind of like hearing a friend describe the shortcut he takes to bypass rush hour traffic...or being introduced to your neighbor’s reliable handyman—you benefit from their experience.

A $29 value, you get this exclusive collection of case studies when you order Escape to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know to Retire Better, Invest Well, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less right now for just $129.

Your Insider’s Guide—Information
You’ll Find Nowhere Else

To gather all the information, advice, tips, and insider secrets we’ve packed into Escape to Costa Rica would take months (if not years) of research and a dozen (if not more) hard-working scouting trips, plus thousands of dollars in travel expenses.

We could easily offer Escape to Costa Rica for $1,000 or more—it’s that valuable and a reflection of the time and money it’ll save you as you plan your move. But at International Living we’re passionate about helping you achieve your overseas dream. And on a personal level, I’m enthusiastic about telling people all about the country I’ve come to know and love.

So we’re making Escape to Costa Rica available today for just $129.

And remember, you get Costa Rica Connections: Expat Case Studies on Retirement, Quality of Life, and Living Overseas (a $29 value) when you order today. Armed with these resources you’ll be "in the know" well before you get "in country."

Discover Costa Rica for Yourself—Risk-Free

At International Living we stand by our publications. We know that they’re the best resources for those seeking a new life overseas. And that’s certainly the case with Escape to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know to Retire Better, Invest Well, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less.

Heck, I went line by line through this book just a few months ago and know every single detail. And I can vouch for the usefulness of this book personally—I’ve used many of the resources it lists myself.

The plain truth is there’s no other resource for moving to and living in Costa Rica as comprehensive as Escape to Costa Rica.

But I want you to see it for yourself and make your own decision.

That’s why after you order your copy, you have a full 30 days to read through it, investigate each chapter—you could even email or call some of the real estate agents, hospitals, lawyers, or moving companies we have listed in the book and ask them questions.

If, once you’ve taken a look, you decide Escape to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know to Retire Better, Invest Well, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less wasn’t what you were expecting or you’ve had a change of heart about Costa Rica—no worries. Just let us know within 30 days of ordering and we’ll give you a full refund. No questions asked.

And you get to keep your special bonus report—that's on us.

The Time to Act Is Now

This time next year you could be enjoying life by the beach, tropical drink in hand, toes in the sand and another beautiful sunset on the horizon…or perhaps you’ll be walking the narrow streets of a bustling market town, saying a hearty "Buenos Dias" to shopkeepers as you do your weekly shopping—or you’ll wake up early, enjoying coffee on the terrace of your hilltop home as you overlook acres of pasture, coffee plantation, and forest.

It’s all possible—and so much more—in Costa Rica.

No matter where you are in the process of moving—or your retirement planning—you owe it to yourself to pick up Escape to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know to Retire Better, Invest Well, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less today.

It’s going to help you with your planning process. It’ll help you make decisions. And when it comes time to plan your visit to Costa Rica to check things out—you’ll be well-informed and already have contacts on the ground.

For just $129 that level of expertise—and peace of mind—can’t be beat.

Order now and you'll also receive our complimentary International Living Postcards, sent everyday via email. You can unsubscribe from this service at any time, with no hassle.

Click "Add to Cart" to secure Escape to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know to Retire Better, Invest Well, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less. When you do, we'll also send you the special digital report, Costa Rica Connections.

Best Regards,

Jason Holland
Roving Latin America Editor, International Living

P.S. Rick and Peggy Stewart—Anna Fishel…Bob and Stacy Lux…Paul and Gloria Yeatman—all are living out their dreams in Costa Rica—joined by 70,000 other North American expats. You could join them and live better in retirement—or start a new chapter in your life.

The advice in Escape to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know to Retire Better, Invest Well, and Enjoy the Good Life for Less is not available anywhere else—at any price.

Get started now.

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