Retire in Costa Rica in 2020

May 12, 2023 in Discover Costa Rica, Discover Costa Ballena, Life in Costa Rica, Real Estate in Costa Rica, Tips for Buyers

To retire in Costa Rica in 2020 is not about age anymore. It is fast becoming a lifestyle choice for all ages and demographics. So what does retire in Costa Rica in 2020 look like? In the South Pacific region of Costa Rica, it’s not just about sitting on the couch, watching daytime television, and popping prescriptions. This is an active, vibrant land filled with warm and welcoming people. These and many other factors help visitors to Costa Rica decide to become expats in no time.

Living here is way different to vacationing here. Much of what you read and hear is subjective - your individual opinions are what matter. But a lot of people helped us learn along the way and it is our pleasure to pay it forward! 

Who is Retiring in Costa Rica in 2020?

Foreign pensioners have typically been the biggest investment class in South Pacific Costa Rica. That is because this quiet and tranquil corner of the country has long shied away from tourist traps by keeping clean, business-free beaches and slow dirt roads. But more diverse tourism has found its way to this sleepy region in the last few years and many more businesses and working-age investors are finding their way to this fast-growing area.

Your partner may be ready to retire but you still need to earn an income. There are myriad ways that expats are finding to quit the corporate lifestyle and work far less with less stress more remotely. This may not be full retirement but it is a decision that an increasing number of over-worked and under-appreciated people are choosing to spend more time looking after themselves and their loved ones. Although you do need proper immigration status to work legally in Costa Rica, those not ready to retire can work for a foreign business remotely or can start your own business in Costa Rica and contribute to the economy locally.

A few pre-retirement age expats are also finding themselves able to retire in Costa Rica in 2020 thanks to inheritance. This is a trend that we are increasingly seeing in the Costa Ballena where retirees who bought a property in Costa Rica years or decades ago are leaving these properties to their children. And after years of visiting their parents here, more than a few of these inheritors have found ways to make the transition to a more peaceful life more fully, thanks to those who paved the way before them. Many are turning this properties into businesses or homesteads and taking a new direction with their time, energy, and approach to earning a living.

Should I Rent or Buy Property In Costa Rica?

While there are many who can say they came to Costa Rica and fell in love instantly, there are some who truly take the plunge on that first trip and buy property in Costa Rica right away. They know that they have to be here. But for the others who need to take more time with a decision, before making any commitments, plan a trip to the areas that you think might be a good future home. It is always salient advice to get a greater knowledge of how things work and what works for you and you will ultimately make better decisions. Many suggest to rent first and to stay in different areas. This way you can find what style of life in Costa Rica suits you best. Do you prefer the beaches or the mountains? How about warmer or cooler temperatures? And would you prefer to have more neighbors or to be more isolated? Do you prefer gringos or Ticos for neighbors?

By testing the waters, you can determine your local financial and medicals costs by tracking those over time and comparing to your budget and how you spend elsewhere. Some things cost more here and some things cost less. Depending on your lifestyle, you may spend lighting here or heavier than back home.

What to Do With Your Belongings From Home?

It is a great idea to leave your belongings in storage or with a friend/family for a year or two while you are getting settled in. Being away from your belongings also show you how little "stuff" you need to live down here. Many new retirees discover that they didn’t need to bring their house full of possessions to Costa Rica. Transportation of goods costs a fair amount and you will likely discover that you brought more than you needed by far, as most of us have in the past.

The first year that expats spend in Costa Rica is always the most expensive. You will wind up buying the things that you eventually realize you do want and need. Things that do cost more here are those that break down the quickest. Cars, books, photographs, natural fabrics - without adequate protection, these items degrade quickly in the heat, salt, moisture, and insects. In the end, your feelings about the expenses in Costa Rica depend on where you are coming from, where you plan to move, and your desired lifestyle.

Where To Retire In Costa Rica in 2020?

The Southern Zone has a number of cooler mountainside communities dotted along the spectacular Pacific Coast. This is known as the part of Costa Rica where the mountains meet the sea. And this is the reason why cool, mountainside homes in the Costa Ballena have the phenomenal ocean views that are becoming iconic in relation to Costa Rica. Think thick, green forest rolling down before you all the way to the deep blue Pacific Ocean.

This region is within an hour’s drive of three good hospitals and plenty of farmer’s markets. It’s nothing fancy but all you need. And it is likely to become everything you want soon enough, too.

Applying for Residency As A Retiree

Foreigners able to invest $200k USD into Costa Rican assets or those who have a pension of at least $1000 USD per couple per month are able to apply for residency in Costa Rica with confidence. However, getting residency on your own is a challenge. Rules change constantly and it is essential to be fluent in Spanish to comprehend all of the nuances. Hiring a reputable lawyer who is known for residency applications can mean the difference between waiting 6 months for approval or two years. Agencies like ARCR, Outlier, and CRIE solely exist for the assistance of retirees and investors to gain their Costa Rica residence. There is currently a backlog in the immigration system with lots of new applicants in the last two years.

Theoretically, you can apply for residency in Costa Rica on your own as long as all of your paperwork is properly notarized (apostiled) by the country you are from. You will need a police check or FBI background check, depending on your country of origin. All of this paperwork must be translated by an official translator at the Casa Amarilla in San Jose, Costa Rica. You should receive the decision within 90 days and then be on a waiting list to have all of your paperwork approved.

Driving in Costa Rica

Expats in Costa Rica need their residence in order to apply for a Costa Rica drivers license. If you are on a tourist visa, even if you have already applied for your residence and are awaiting approval, you will need to exit the country every 3 months to maintain the status of your international driver’s license.

Planning on Retiring in Costa Rica in 2020?

Many soon-to-be retirees have had their eye on Costa Rica for some time. The possibility of retirement can be easily affirmed by spending a chunk of time checking out our region and getting to know the people. Contact our office to learn more about your opportunities for making your move to Costa Rica.

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