Last Updated: Jan 19, 2012
Ten percent of baby boomers have chosen to retire outside the U.S., taking their retirement plans and pension dollars abroad where life is less expensive. For retirees looking for the best of all worlds – affordable cost of living combined with excellent health care, proximity to family back home and fantastic weather – Costa Rica is the answer. Here you can stretch your dollar without making big sacrifices: $1,500 a month will cover a modest home rental, health care, public transportation, as well as high-speed Internet and cable television.
Why Costa Rica
Costa Rica has several attractive qualities making it one of the world's most desirable choices for retirement. Say goodbye to chilly winters or raking leaves in the fall: in Costa Rica, your only decision will be between the spring-like temperatures of the Central Valley or the sunny warmth of coastal areas. And while winter may seem a world away from your tropical home, Costa Rica is just a short plane ride away from many North American destinations.
Cost of Living
The minimum $1,000 monthly legally required of retirees is just enough to live on, especially if you own your own home. An increase to $1,500 allows for a modest lifestyle that includes occasional outings, public and private health insurance, bus and taxi transportation, and a diet rich in local fruits, vegetables and meats. Retired residents with funds to spare can indulge in full-time housekeepers, luxurious homes, vehicle ownership, and plenty of travel around their new country.
Costa Rica's "pensionado" residency category was developed with retirees in mind. The requirements are simple: you'll need proof of at least $1,000 in monthly income, and you must reside in Costa Rica for at least four months per year. For married couples, a $1,000 pension from one source will cover both spouses' residency. The application and approval process will take approximately 6-18 months, and you will be eligible for upgrade to permanent residency after three years.
Costa Rica's public and private health care is among the world's best and most affordable. Mandatory insurance with the public system, known as "La Caja" or CCSS, runs about 10-11.5% of your income, or $60 per month for members of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). You may choose to supplement with private insurance, which opens up your options to almost any medical facility in Costa Rica. Coverage costs $60-$140 per month depending on age and other factors.
For over 60 years, Costa Rica's stable government has been at the helm of this peaceful nation. There is no army, and democratic presidential elections are held every four years. Political stability and an emphasis on public education have created a large middle class, which in turn helps reduce crime rates. Additionally, Costa Rica's laws protect real estate purchases and ownership rights, so your investment is secure.