Benefits of Moving to Costa Rica
Costa Rica is the land of "pura vida,' or pure life -- a country with no army, amazing natural beauty, environmentally friendly policies, and a temperate tropical climate. Farmers' markets dot town squares; volcanoes and beaches are separated by only an hour's picturesque drive, and life moves at a slower pace. Spend even a week here and you'll discover why Costa Rica is one of the most desirable retirement destinations in the world.
Cost of Living
The dollar is strong in Costa Rica, and has seen a steady rise every year against the colon, Costa Rica's currency, making this a great country in which to stretch your income or pension dollars. Living basics, like real estate and utilities, are quite economical: single-family homes start at $250 per month (rent) and $50,000 (purchase), and utilities are a fraction of their North American counterpart. Labor and services are less expensive in Costa Rica, while you'll pay more for imported goods than you would back home. This means that you can choose where to spend -- and how much to spend -- giving you the power to live as frugally or luxuriously as you wish. Expats interested in simple living should budget $1500 or less monthly, though much depends on your lifestyle and needs.
Costa Rica is widely known for its low-cost and high quality medical care. Residents have two options: the public heathcare system alone (known as the Caja), or the public system combined with private insurance. Healthcare through the Caja is limited to Costa Rica's ten major public hospitals and clinics, which are located in almost every community, and costs roughly 10-11.5% of your income. Many residents choose to augment their coverage by purchasing private insurance, which costs around $50-$100/month per person, depending on age, gender and other factors. Private plans allow you to choose from a large selection of excellent private clinics and hospitals.
Costa Rica is one of the most diverse and beautiful countries on the planet; cloud forests and volcanoes are only a few hours' drive from tropical beaches and lowland rainforest. It is home to 27 national parks, which are a safe harbor for over 75% of the country's flora and fauna, guaranteeing the survival and proliferation of Costa Rica's diverse wildlife. As a resident, you'll have time to explore the country's hidden corners, where you'll be sure to discover your own favorite places.
Proximity to North America
Most North American destinations are only a short plane ride from Costa Rica:
San Jose to Miami: 2 hours, 20 minutes (nonstop)
San Jose to Chicago: 6 hours, 15 minutes (one stop)
San Jose to Houston: 3 hours, 45 minutes (nonstop)
San Jose to Los Angeles: 5 hours, 30 minutes (nonstop)
San Jose to New York: 5 hours, 10 minutes (nonstop)
San Jose to Quebec: 8 hours, 30 minutes (nonstop)
San Jose to Toronto: 5 hours, 25 minutes (nonstop)
Quality of Life
Costa Rica boasts one of the highest standards of living in Latin America. Public services like water and electricity are available countrywide, while you'll find cable television, cell phone service, high-speed Internet, and home phone service in most cities and small towns. Your local farmers' market is a great place to buy inexpensive and abundant fresh produce, while grocery stores carry many of the items you bought back home. Keep in mind that lavish upgrades and imported goods can raise your cost of living significantly. However, most residents find that their dollar goes further in Costa Rica than it did in their home countries.
Safety & Stability
The country has a stable government that has functioned peaceably without an army for more than 50 years. Costa Rica is a democratic republic where citizens elect their leaders every four years. Unlike many Central American nations, Costa Rica has a large middle class and wealth is evenly distributed. Extreme poverty is rare, and therefore crime is reduced considerably. Congress creates new laws to increase public safety -- such as the new driving laws that establish higher fines and stricter consequences for lawbreakers.