What to Consider Before Moving to Costa Rica

jennparker Costa Rica , Living Abroad , Real Estate Leave a Comment

It is not an uncommon reaction to come home from a trip to Costa Rica and start dreaming about living there. For those of us who are currently living in Costa Rica, you have probably heard countless times from visitors how lucky you are to live in here. 

What many people don’t distinguish during their daydreams about life in Costa Rica is the reality versus the fantasy. It is essential to take note that there is no such thing as an absolutely perfect place. If you believe that Costa Rica is your near-perfect place, make sure to consider and answer the following questions before you make the big move. 

Are your reasons realistic?

Everyone has different reasons for wanting to live in Costa Rica. Perhaps you want to live more simply, surf every day, and spend more times in nature. Maybe you want your children to learn Spanish and have a more wholesome adolescence. Or, you’ve worked hard for the past several decades, and you want to retire and spend your second act in a small multicultural community where your retirement fund will last longer.

The reasons are infinite and entirely personal. 

It is important to have reasonable reasons though. You must not expect that just because you move that everything will automatically fall into place the way it does in your dreams. The decision to relocate to a different country requires a bit of research, planning, and effort.

Fortunately, at Grande Real Estate, we have a wealth of valuable information that we can share with you to help you make this transition as smooth as possible. 

Playa Grande, Costa Rica

Surfer’s paradise/Photo Courtesy of Chris Goldberg/Flickr

Do you qualify for residency? 

By law, every non-citizen and non-resident of Costa Rica must exit the country every 90 days. Failure to do so can result in immediate and long-term deportation. For individuals who do not have a special visa or legal residency, a quick trip to Panama or Nicaragua is all it takes to get another 90-day entrance stamp. Some people plan their vacations or trips back to see their families when they need a “visa run.”

When you come back into Costa Rica after your visa run, you must have proof that you are leaving again after your new 90-day stamp has expired. This can be in the form of a booked airline ticket. 

While obtaining your residency is a lengthy and pricy process, it is not impossible, especially with the help of an experienced immigration lawyer. 

Have you calculated your approximate cost of living?

While living in Costa Rica might be cheaper in many ways than living in North America, it is still one of the most expensive countries to travel and live in Central America. It is wise to estimate (rounding up, of course), what your monthly cost of living will be. Having a general idea of what it will cost you to live every month will help you to create an adequate budget and ensure that you have the financial means necessary. 

Be sure to consider some unforeseen expenses, as well. It’s always good to have a rainy-day fund! 

Where to live in Costa Rica

Country life/ Photo courtesy of Mike Baird/Flickr

Do you have a means of income to support that cost?

Making a liveable income as a foreigner in Costa Rica takes a bit of hard work, creativity, and local connections. As it is illegal to work in Costa Rica unless you have a work visa or you have a specific type of legal residency, many individuals decide to build their own businesses or do freelance-type work. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Once you know what you approximate cost of living will be, you can better figure out how you are going to afford that. Maybe you have a sizeable saving account, a retirement fund or pension plan, or do a line of work that can be done from abroad. The possibilities of making a life in Costa Rica work are endless. It is just something you should think about before packing up and moving here to avoid a financial nightmare. 

Have you done a test run? 

Different people like different parts of Costa Rica for different reasons. It is a good idea to spend some time in one or more of the places that caught your attention before you make the big move. When you take the vacation glasses off, an area might not appear the same. 

When you know, you know though! This is the way many of the people who live in Playa Grande felt when they decided to make this special little town their home. 

Playa Grande, Costa Rica

Welcome home!

About the Author