A vast coastline, tropical forests and eco-friendly living are just some of the major attractions that draw expats to Costa Rica. In addition, taxes are very low, with no capital gains tax on real estate and a lower property tax than many other countries. The cost of living is also inexpensive, food and property prices much cheaper than in some first world countries. Some will tell you utilities are cheaper, but it really depends on your need. If running an air conditioner all day as some are used to in their home countries, you may find the utilities quite expensive. You’ll find the Costa Rican lifestyle famously laidback, so much so there is a national saying, ’Pura Vida’, which translates to ‘pure life’.
An increasing number of expats are making the move to Costa Rica in search of sun, sand and a relaxed pace of life. While this tropical haven can provide all these benefits, there are a few things to know to ensure the move is as smooth and seamless as possible when you emigrate to Costa Rica.
Requirements to Move to Costa Rica
UK, Canadian and U.S. citizens do not currently require a visa to enter Costa Rica as a tourist and are legally entitled to stay up to 90 days. However, if you wish to move permanently to Costa Rica full-time, the process is slightly more complicated. You can apply for a work visa or for a residence visa with the Costa Rican Department of Immigration. It is often recommended that you seek professional help for your application and rarely are work visas granted unless in a needed and specialized area of employment. Like most Central American countries, jobs go to their citizens first. The opening of your own business is however encouraged, especially if you employ locals. There is a monetary requirement for investing in a business.
If you are retiring tо Costa Rica, the Pensionado Program could be best suited to your needs. This requires you to receive a minimum of $1000 monthly in the form of pension payments and allows you the right to live in Costa Rica. Alternatively, the Rentista Program is for expats who receive a monthly income of $2500 proven for the last 2 years or can make a large deposit of $60,000 to a Costa Rican bank account. Once your application is successful, you will receive a DIMEX Identification Card, which serves as your residency card.
There is no train network in Costa Rica — largely owing to the challenging terrain — the main ways of travelling long distance are limited to bus travel, driving, or taking a plane.
Bus travel is extremely cheap, but buses can be crowded — particularly on more popular routes. There are two classes of local bus — directo and colectivo. As you may infer from the name, directo buses are faster and more direct, making fewer stops between destinations. Colectivo buses on the other hand, can be very slow. Local buses are also fairly basic in general and don’t have toilets on board, and timetables can be unreliable as they are often subject to sudden changes. Air-conditioned tourist shuttle buses are a pricier but classier bus travel option, and they will pick you up directly from your hotel and cover routes to the most popular tourist destinations.
In a country that prides itself on its low crime rates, clean neighborhoods and educated population, including a significant proportion of English speakers, many people see Costa Rica as something of a paradise. Take a look and you’ll quickly see why so many expats choose to live in Costa Rica.