Costa Rica
Relocation · Retirement · Perpetual Travel

Moving to Costa Rica

Costa Rica has long been a favorite among expats looking for a higher standard of living at a lower cost. For a variety of reasons, expats may find it advantageous to relocate to Costa Rica.

To begin with, Costa Rica’s cost of living is significantly lower than that of many other countries. As a result, expats can often enjoy a higher standard of living on a lower income. Costa Rica’s already low cost of living benefits even more because the government does not have to pay for a military. Food is cheap because of the country’s thriving agricultural sector.

Costa Rica also has a diverse population and a long cultural history. Expats will be exposed to a completely new way of life in addition to meeting people from all walks of life. There are also numerous expat communities throughout the country that can provide newcomers with a sense of community and friendship.

Costa Rica has many high-quality medical facilities, including world-class hospitals and clinics. This information will be useful for expats who are concerned about access to health care in their new home country.

Costa Rica is deeply committed to protecting its natural resources. Expats concerned about the environment will be pleased by the country’s efforts to protect its natural resources and encourage people to live more sustainably.

Moving to Costa Rica may be an excellent choice for expats seeking a lower cost of living, a rich cultural experience, high-quality healthcare, and a commitment to the environment.

If you’re thinking about moving to Costa Rica, here’s some information to help you decide:

Benefits of living in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s cost of living is significantly lower than that of many Western countries. Housing, food, and utilities are all significantly less expensive in Costa Rica than they would be in the United States. You can live much better in Costa Rica than you did in your home country and have more money left over at the end of the month, depending on your new lifestyle.

Costa Rica has many beautiful beaches, national parks, and mountain ranges, as well as a variety of outdoor activities such as surfing, hiking, and birdwatching. The country is also well-known for its breathtaking natural wonders, such as waterfalls, volcanoes, and hot springs.

Costa Rica has a diverse culture that combines indigenous, Spanish, and African influences. The country’s art, music, literature, and cuisine reflect this diversity.

Costa Rica is also well-known for its sustainable tourism initiatives, which emphasize the preservation of the country’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Costa Rica has an excellent healthcare system, with many modern hospitals and clinics spread across the country. Health insurance is also reasonably priced in Costa Rica, making it an appealing option for retirees or those on a fixed income.

Housing options

Costa Rica has a wide range of housing options, including apartments, houses, and villas. Housing prices vary by location, but in general, you can find good deals on real estate in Costa Rica.
San Jose, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, and Tamarindo are popular expat and tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Each of these areas has a distinct personality and set of attractions, so do your research to determine which is the best fit for you.

According to Numbeo, the cost of housing for expats in Costa Rica is relatively low compared to other countries. The average price for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is approximately $541 per month, while a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city center costs around $381 per month. Rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center is around $989 per month, while rent for a three-bedroom apartment outside of the city center is approximately $707 per month. Expats often report slightly higher rents especially in the more resort or upscale areas.

But overall, these prices are definitely lower than in a lot of other places, making Costa Rica a great choice for expats who want affordable housing options.


There are several popular cities and towns in Costa Rica for expats, retirees, and travelers, including:


For foreign nationals, Costa Rica offers several types of visas, each with its own set of requirements and restrictions. Here are some examples of common visas:

Tourist visa: This is a short-term visa that allows tourists to visit Costa Rica for up to 90 days. It is usually given when you arrive in Costa Rica and does not require an already approved application.

Temporary residence visa: This is a visa that is granted to foreign nationals who want to live in Costa Rica for a specific reason, such as studying, working, or conducting business. It is usually valid for one year and can be extended.

Permanent residence visa: This is a visa that allows foreign nationals to live in Costa Rica indefinitely. To be eligible for a permanent residence visa, you must have a clean criminal record and sufficient income or assets to support yourself in Costa Rica.

Retirement visa: The “Pensionado” visa is Costa Rica’s retirement visa program. It is a temporary visa that allows foreign nationals over the age of 50 to retire in Costa Rica and receive certain benefits such as medical care and public transportation discounts.

To be eligible for the Pensionado visa, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be over the age of 50.
  • You must have a $1,000 monthly pension from a government or private company.
  • You must have enough money or assets to support yourself in Costa Rica.

You will need the following documents to apply for the Pensionado visa:

  • Birth certificate Passport
  • Your home country’s police clearance certificate
  • Evidence of pension income
  • Health coverage
  • Proof of Costa Rican residency (e.g., rental agreement or property ownership)

You can apply for the Pensionado visa at the Costa Rican consulate in your home country or at the immigration office in Costa Rica once you have all of the required documents and meet the eligibility requirements. Depending on the workload of the immigration office, the process can take several weeks or months.

More Visa Information


The food scene in Costa Rica is diverse and delicious, with a mix of traditional Costa Rican dishes and international cuisine.

Some popular Costa Rican dishes include:

Arroz con Leche is a sweet rice pudding made with milk, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and cinnamon sticks. It is a popular dessert in Costa Rica.

Casado is a traditional dish that typically includes pork chops and a variety of other foods. The name means “married” in Spanish, which reflects the combination of different foods served together in this dish.

Chifrijo is a popular meal or snack made from chicharrones and frijoles. It is commonly found at local events, farmer’s markets, and restaurants.

Flan is a sweet egg custard dessert that is cooked in a pan lined with caramel and chilled before serving. It is believed to have originated from the Romans and is a variation of the original recipe which used honey instead of sugar.

Gallo Pinto is a popular breakfast dish made of rice and beans mixed together and paired with ingredients such as red bell peppers, cilantro, onions, and the essential Salsa Lizano sauce. The dish gets its name from the speckled appearance of the rice, meaning “spotted rooster” in Spanish.

Olla de Carne is a beef stew that is a popular weekend dish. It is unique in its use of ingredients and has a rich, hearty flavor.

Patacones are deep-fried plantains that are served as a snack. They are flattened and fried twice, and are often finished with a sprinkle of sea salt and served with pico de gallo or mashed black beans.

Sopa Negra, or Black Bean Soup, is made with black beans, onion, bell peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and spices. It is a hearty and comforting dish that can be served with a side of Tabasco sauce for added flavor.

Tamal (tamales) in Costa Rica are made differently than their Mexican counterparts. Costa Rican tamales are filled with garlic and are less spicy, while the wrapping is made of banana leaves instead of corn husks. They are often served for breakfast with beans.

In addition to traditional Costa Rican cuisine, there are also many international restaurants in the country, offering a wide range of cuisines such as Italian, Mexican, and Chinese. Overall, the food scene in Costa Rica is varied and delicious, and offers something for everyone.


Costa Rica is generally a safe country, with low crime rates compared to many other countries in the region. However, as with any country, it’s a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.


According to Wikipedia, the official language of Costa Rica is Spanish; however, Costa Rica is a linguistically diverse country and home to at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the descendants of pre-Columbian peoples: Maléku, Cabécar, Bribri, Guaymí, and Buglere.

What Do People Say?

According to expats, retirees and travelers, the main benefits of living in Costa Rica are:

Affordable cost of living: When compared to other countries, Costa Rica has a relatively low cost of living, particularly in terms of housing and healthcare.

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful natural surroundings, which include stunning beaches, mountains, and rainforests.

Costa Rica is only a short flight away from the United States, making it easy for expats and retirees to visit family and friends back home.

Costa Rica is a stable democracy with low crime rates, making it a safe and peaceful place to live.

Strong expat community: Costa Rica has a strong expat community, which can help newcomers adjust to life in a new country.

Excellent healthcare: Costa Rica has an excellent healthcare system, with many private hospitals and clinics providing high-quality medical care.

Costa Ricans, or Ticos, are known for being friendly and welcoming, which can help expats and retirees feel at ease in their new country.

Outdoor activities: Costa Rica is a fantastic destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with numerous opportunities for hiking, surfing, and birdwatching.

In conclusion, living in Costa Rica has many advantages, including a low cost of living, beautiful beaches and natural surroundings, a rich culture, high-quality healthcare, friendly locals, and a safe and secure environment.

What are you waiting for? 

We want to hear from you!

Have you ever dreamed of retiring or relocating abroad?

Whether it’s for the culture, the climate, or the cost of living, we want to know why you want to make the move and what countries are on your radar.

Share your story with us and be a part of our ongoing discussion about the joys and challenges of living abroad.

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