So, you want to move to Costa Rica?
You probably think your days will be spent with your toes in powdery sand, strolling along white-sand beaches. You believe you’ll take naps in a hammock, the breeze in your hair and the Pacific at your feet. You dream that you’ll have the jungle as your backyard and the monkeys as your neighbors.
You’re absolutely right, on all accounts.
Costa Rica is a spectacular place to call home. It’s also a little quirky – in a good way. Living in Costa Rica is not the same as vacationing here.
Living in Costa Rica goes beyond the dream and ziplines into reality. To answer the question, Is Costa Rica right for me?, you really need to answer several questions:
- Do I qualify for legal residency?
- Where do I want to live?
- Am I willing to learn the language?
- Can I slow down and relax?
Securing Legal Residency
If you’re going to live in Costa Rica, and especially if you plan to reside for more than three consecutive months a year, the first step is to secure legal residency. Legal residents are entitled to many benefits, among them the right to live in Costa Rica for extended periods of time. (Tourists may stay for a maximum of 90 days.)
Other benefits: Public healthcare through the CCSS, also known as the Caja. Banking. Public utilities. National discounts. The list goes on, and affects many of the day-to-day details you’ll appreciate for everyday, comfortable living.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ll qualify for either Pensionado, Rentista, or Inversionista residency:
- Pensionado Residency (PDF in Spanish): Requires a monthly pension of $1,000 or more.
- Rentista Residency (PDF in Spanish): Requires a permanent monthly income of $2,500 for at least two years. In most cases, this amount must be pre-deposited into a Costa Rican bank account, to cover your entire residency – $60,000 ($2,500 x 24 months).
- Inversionista Residency (PDF in Spanish): Requires an investment of a minimum $200,000. A $200,000 real estate purchase (e.g. your Costa Rican home) will qualify.
Some readers may also qualify for permanent residency through a first-degree Costa Rican relative (PDF in Spanish), for example a child born in Costa Rica, or temporary residency through a Costa Rican spouse (PDF in Spanish).
Buying a Home
We encourage you to travel the country. Spend a month here, a month there. Live life in any town that interests you, and see if you’re still in love after the honeymoon period has passed.
When you’ve narrowed down your favorite places, stay a little longer. Get to know your potential neighbors. Spend at least part of rainy season in the area. See if you’re still in love.
When you’re ready to buy, it’s time to do some research. Avoid common pitfalls, like buying into a brand-new community that may never get completed. Choose a home that’s built for our tropical environment. Do your due diligence.
>> Discover all the dos & don’ts to buying a home, in our free Costa Rica Insider’s Guide. <<
Did you know that there are tons of benefits to learning a second language? Improved attention span, simpler decision-making, a better memory – the list goes on.
And when you live in Costa Rica, there’s another big benefit: You learn to communicate with the world around you. You can ask for directions. You can make friends. You can shop the farmer’s market and the local smoothie shack. Life is richer, riper. It’s better. Or, mejor, as you’ll soon be saying!
Now, Enjoy the Pura Vida
Once your residency is underway, your location chosen, your home purchased, and the language-learning underway, you’re ready to get around to living the dream.
And a dream, it is. For the most part. Because sure, there are going to be small frustrations, just like back home. But here, you can go wash off your irritation in the warm Pacific. You can forget the morning’s annoyances with a swing in the hammock. You can pick fruit from your garden, whip up a frozen margarita, and watch the sun go down on any residual stress you brought from “back home.” Well, your other home, because Costa Rica is also home now.
So, embrace the pura vida – Costa Rica’s version of hakuna matata – and enjoy each day to the fullest. Work less and live more. Seize the day, today – not tomorrow.
Come on down. Live your best life. In paradise.