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The Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica
By Christopher Howard found at

Few nations are more dynamic than is Costa Rica. There are volcanos that tourists go to watch erupt; each night creating a spectacle that is worthy of an academy award. Pristine beaches, a cultured capital city, almost every climatic zone one could ask for, from tropical beaches to mountain ranches with refreshingly cool mountain breezes. Costa Rica has it all!

(...) Despite having one of the highest standards of living in Latin America, purchasing power is greater in Costa Rica than in the United States or Canada. The country is really a bargain compared to most places. In most areas housing costs less than what it does in the U. S. and hired help is a steal. Utilities - telephone service, electricity, and water - are cheaper than in North America. You never need to heat your home or apartment because of Costa Rica´s warm climate. You need not cook with gas, since most stoves are electric. These services cost about 30% of what they do at home. Bills for heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer can cost hundreds of dollars in the States.
A recent study by the Miami Herald rated Costa Rica the 27th safest country for investment of 140 countries surveyed. If you are not impressed by Costa Rica´s ranking, consider that the U.S. was ranked only 22nd! Another recent study found Costa Rica to be the least corrupt country in Latin America.

In addition, U.S. business magazine, Fortune ranked San José Latin America´s fifth best city to do business and placed it within the 25 best cities in the world. According to the report, Fortune considered the city´s ability to create opportunity for its residents, its business climate and how well it can satisfy the business needs of companies that invest there. San José ranked tops in the quality of its labor force, its business environment and the lifestyle it offers resident executives and investors.

If you can´t afford to buy a house in the U.S. or Canada, prices of decent homes in Costa Rica begin at around $50,000 with financing available for new homes if you become a resident. (...)

You don't have to be a resident of Costa Rica to own property and you’re entitled to the same ownership rights as citizens of Costa Rica. Ownership of real estate in Costa Rica is fully guaranteed by the constitution to all including foreigners. This means your purchase here can be fully secured and safe.

In Costa Rica you can build your retirement dream house, if you so desire, since land, labor and materials are inexpensive. However, think twice about undertaking such a project because you could be flirting with disaster. Many foreigners who have built homes complain that it sounds easier than it really is. They would not do it again because of costly delays, unreliable labor, fussy building inspectors, different laws and building codes and many other unforeseen problems. Be sure to talk with foreigners who have built homes to see what obstacles they encountered. Costs depend on location, materials and the size of the home you want to build. You generally pay between $300 to $600 a square meter or $30 to $60 a square foot.


Retirement or just living in another country often presents new challenges for people because perhaps for the first time they are confronted with having a plethora of leisure time and the problem of what to do to with it. As you will see throughout this chapter, Costa Rica is wonderful place to live. In addition to being relatively inexpensive there are many interesting activities to choose from. As one of our American friends referred to his busy life in Costa Rica, " My days are so fulfilling, that each day in Costa Rica seems like a whole lifetime."

In Costa Rica you have no excuse for being bored or inactive, unless you are just plain lazy. There is some hobby or pastime for everyone regardless of age or interests. Even if you cannot pursue your favorite hobbies, you can get involved in something new and exciting. Best of all, by participating in some of the activities in this chapter, you will meet other people with common interests and cultivate new friendships in the process. You can even spend your time continuing your education or studying Spanish (...). Most people you meet will also be expatriates, so you probably won´t need that much Spanish to enjoy yourself. However, the happiest expats seem to be those who speak Spanish. They are able to enjoy the culture more fully, mix with the locals and make new friends in the process.

Whatever you do, don´t make the mistake of being idle. The worst thing you can do is spend all your time drinking in one of the many gringo hangouts in downtown San José. Over the years we have seen many fellow Americans fail to use their time constructively, and destroy their lives by becoming alcoholics while living in Costa Rica - a few even died prematurely. So, use the information we have provided in this chapter, and take advantage of the many activities Costa Rica offers.

If you are looking for someone for romance, Costa Rica might just be the right place for you.
Ladies, regardless of age, you will find gentleman admirers in Costa Rica if you so desire. Due to machismo, Costa Rican men are more flirtatious an aggressive than North American men. Most Costa Rican men think foreign women have looser morals and are easier conquests than ticas (Costa Rican women). So, be careful to take time to develop a long-term, meaningful relationship and don´t rush things.

Men of any age will have no problem meeting Costa Rican women. The women in Costa Rica seem to like older, more experienced men. It is not unusual to see a wife who is ten to twenty years younger than her spouse. This practice may be frowned on in some countries but is accepted in Costa Rica. Many retirees we know claim to feel rejuvenated and to have a new lease on life after becoming involved with younger women. Costa Rican women have an unparalleled reputation as being the most beautiful, flirtatious, and accessible women in Latin America - including Brazil. The ladies of Costa Rica are more warm-hearted and devoted than their North American counterparts. They consider you a joy. One retiree we know boasts, " The women here really know how to treat you like a king!"

The final step in deciding if you want to make Costa Rica your home, is to try living there for at least a year. That´s sufficient time to get an idea of what living in Costa Rica is really like and what problems may confront you while trying to adapt to living in a new culture. It may also let you adjust to the climate and new foods. You can learn all the dos and don´ts, ins and outs and places to go or places to avoid before making your final decision.

You may decide to try seasonal living for a few months a year. Many people spend the summer in the U.S. or Canada and the winter in Costa Rica (which is its summer), so they can enjoy the best of both worlds - the endless summer.(...)  it´s easy to do, since you can legally stay in the country up to six months as a tourist without having to get any type of permanent residency.

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