If you’re from the United States, chances are you’ve at least heard of someone who’s living or plans on living in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has turned into an incredibly popular long-term destination for both young people and retirees alike. In fact, the newest estimate is that over 50,000 people from the United States alone live in this small, tropical country full-time. Combined with those who come for just part of the year and those from other countries around the world, Costa Rica is bursting with diverse cultures and influences.
While your friends in Costa Rica may seem to be living the easy life, nobody makes such a big move without serious consideration. Many people consider a move like this for years and even visit the country a couple times before they make their decision. While everyone has their personal motives for a long-term move, people who have made the plunge into expat life in Costa Rica typically report 7 main factors influencing their decision.
1. Inexpensive luxuries
When it comes down to it, you’ll get more bang for your buck in Costa Rica. Young people find themselves with enough money to buy a house and start a business, and retirees can take modest retirement savings and turn them into a lifetime of tropical luxury. A $2,000 monthly budget can take you a very long way in any part of Costa Rica, and those who live away from the booming cities will easily spend much less. Houses are affordable and legal to own without residency, and full-time domestic help can be contracted for just around $10 a day. Life with a maid, driving services, and beach front housing is a dream very few people can ever achieve in the United States, but is common among Costa Rican Expats.
2. Stunning nature
No one contests the natural beauty of Costa Rica, and that’s because not one section of the country is void of astonishing biodiversity, in both plants and animals. Apart from the tropical beaches, this small country offers rainforests, mountains, cloud forests, and rocky volcanic area. Whatever your preferences may be in terms of temperature and weather patterns, you’ll find a region that works for you. The opportunities for outdoor adventures are endless, and include water sports, rainforests hikes, volcano climbs, and waterfall plunges. Costa Rica currently houses 4% of the entire world’s biodiversity, so nature lovers will have no problems finding somewhere to explore. For those less interested in adventurism, a hammock on your own porch will give you access to ocean breezes and tropical bird life.
3. Proximity to North America
A big hurdle for those planning a move abroad is considering life without easy access to their friends and family. This is a major reason why Costa Rica has become a more popular choice than a country on a different continent. Costa Rica has two major international airports and is only around 2 and a half hours from Miami. Not only is the flight short, tickets are typically no more expensive than an average domestic flight. This means you can enjoy your life in the tropics without missing out on any event back home.
4. Health care and access to health
Day to day life in Costa Rica is active and health-conscious. Many incomers to Costa Rica find that their physical health and activity levels improve within just weeks of relocating. Fresh fruits and vegetables of the highest quality are available for just pennies on almost every corner. Items considered “super foods” in the United States are often imported from Central America, where they can be found organic, newly harvested, and for prices which can’t be beaten. And with the best weather in the world, Costa Rican cities are designed for pedestrians, increasing your daily physical activity.
As if a healthy and active lifestyle wasn’t enough, Costa Rica has one of the most well-run, low-cost medical systems in the entire world. This country has modern health facilities with well-trained doctors where almost any modern treatment can be administered. The access to low cost, high quality medical care is what draws many retirees to Costa Rica, but young people should consider this a bonus as well.
Costa Rica has a climate for everyone, from hot and sunny beaches, to the mild valley region, to the chilly mountains. While the weather may change dramatically across the country, each region enjoys a very predictable weather pattern. Typically, temperatures will not vary drastically throughout the year, although each region can expect increased warmth in April and May and cool winds in December and January. It generally rains for 6 months out of the year and stays dry for the remainder. Once you find your perfect climate in Costa Rica, you can rest assured that it will stay relatively stable year-round.
6. The expat community
While moving to a foreign land may be fun, living as a permanent outsider comes with its fair share of stresses. Costa Rica has the perfect balance between traditional culture and modern diversity, and this comes from a developed expat community. Newcomers often meet many people who have similar stories to their own and find in this community the help they need to navigate life in their new country. What’s more, depending on where a person chooses to settle, it can be quite easy to live in Costa Rica without ever speaking Spanish. Many local professionals are bilingual and there is a bilingual community in every major area of the country.
7. Costa Rican culture
People choose to come to Costa Rica for many reasons, but there is one major factor that makes people stay: the culture. Costa Rica has developed its unique culture by mixing traditional values with modern development. Life in Costa Rica is happy, relaxing, and maintains a slow, stress-free pace. This atmosphere is easy to get used to, and many people claim their health has improved and their happiness increased since moving to the region. In fact, Costa Rica received the highest score on the Happy Life Years ranking by Happy Planet on multiple occasions. This way of life is so infectious that a significant part of the expat community is comprised by people who originally came to Costa Rica for a short vacation, but chose to either stay or return full-time.