Costa Rica

White Line

Costa Rica Free Country Guide

Why move to Costa Rica? Everything you need to know about traveling,
living, retiring and moving to Costa Rica


San Jose


$65.3 billion




Costa Rica Colón



Time / Call #

UTC -6 / +506

Cost of Living
Visa & Residency

About Costa Rica

Many fall in love with Costa Rica’s lovely rainforests, unpolluted beaches, beautiful scenery and different kinds of biodiversity with a wide range of animals; from hummingbirds to chimps to sloths to jaguars. 

sloth friendly local, relaxed lifestyle, costa-rica
A sloth enjoying his relaxed lifestyle in the rainforest. The friendly locals come in many shapes and forms

Others like the country because of its laid-back way of life. Residents, who are called Ticos, often say “pura vida” (or “pure life”). This guiding principle can be seen everywhere in Costa Rica, from the cosmopolitan capital of San José to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It is a magical place to be.

San José Vázquez de Coronado, Costa Rica
Beautiful colonial architecture in San Jose

Costa Rica has over 200 active volcanoes, steep mountains, and beautiful beaches with sand that ranges in color from white to black. It is blessed with impressive waterfalls and beaches where tourists can participate in thrilling activities such as rafting, kayaking, and canyoning. It is one of the best places for ecotourism, with a large number of ecolodges, and for people who love animals to see different wildlife, such as sea turtles, macaws, and adorable sloths.

Active Volcano Irazu in National Park in Cartago, Costa Rica
Active Volcano Irazu in National Park in Cartago

There are several well-established expat and digital nomad communities spread all over the nation. Costa Rica, which separates North and South America, borders Panama and Nicaragua and shares maritime border with Ecuador.

It is easy to understand why retirees choose Costa Rica as their vacation spot. Here, you may enjoy a healthy, sunny lifestyle with a low cost of living and the advantages of a booming economy and a democratic government.


The tropical climate of Costa Rica varies greatly depending on your area. The Caribbean side is more humid and warm, while the Pacific side is hot and dry. In the highlands, it’s colder and rainier. 

Toucan bird in tropical rainforest in Costa Rica
Toucan bird in tropical rainforest

Costa Rica has a wet season from May to November and a dry season from December to April. Considering how unbearably humid Costa Rica’s neighbors can be, this season is ideal in the tropics.

Costa Rica is an excellent alternative for retirees who appreciate the outdoors. Costa Rica boasts over 1,000 kilometres of coastline, the Caribbean Sea to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, mountains, forests, and even volcanoes. It is rich in natural beauty.

Outdoors Playa Minas in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
You can never get enough of the diversity of the outdoors in Costa Rica. Turquoise water in Playa Minas in Guanacaste



Costa Rica is a Spanish-speaking country. Other languages like English, Creole, and some Indian languages are spoken in the country.


Safety and Security

Safety is a key index when considering whether to travel or live abroad. Costa Rica is ranked 38th out of 163 nations in the 2022 Global Peace Index. It is overall a peace-loving nation and is often referred to as the “Switzerland of Central America. In terms of crime, Costa Rica regularly comes out on top for the safest country in the Caribbean and Central America. 

Living in Costa Rica requires the usual precautions against theft: Be cautious at night time and keep all of your belongings in sight at all times. Costa Rica has been a democracy since 1949 and peaceful for even longer. It’s also one of the few countries in the world without an army. This makes it very attractive to Americans looking for a safe place to live..


Cost Of Living In Costa Rica

For more than 40 years, Costa Rica has welcomed expats. The cost of living has risen slowly throughout this time. Compared to other countries in Central and South America, food, rent, and real estate costs are much higher in popular expat locations.

One of the most expensive things you can do is owning an automobile. Although public transportation is accessible, many expats consider owning a car vital. Imported Western foods are similarly expensive. If you have a limited budget, you should consider buying locally sourced food that is both delicious and healthy. 

adventure car hiking, costa rica
Owning a car in Costa Rica can be expensive. Oh ..the adventures you could have though

Despite these shockingly high prices, tax breaks and other benefits provide a far lower cost of living for a higher quality of life than in the United States. You can live well on $2,000 a month (this includes all costs).


Costa Rica’s Tax System

Taxes in Costa Rica are one of the factors that contribute to the country’s popularity as a retirement option for expats. The concept of territoriality is the major attraction of Costa Rica’s tax system. It means that only personal income received in the nation is subject to taxation. All foreign sources are free from taxation.

Furthermore, social security and pension income do not pay taxes, so Costa Rica is a favorite destination for foreign retirees. You will, however, have to pay your taxes to the IRS in the United States since America taxes all of your global income.

If you intend to relocate to Costa Rica, it is also a good idea to become acquainted with the country’s tax structure. 

Since the 80s, Costa Rica has focused on creating incentives to attract expats from the US. The government has introduced 100% tax exemptions on imported vehicles and household goods, and zero tax on any income earned abroad. These incentives, coupled with the country’s incredible biodiversity, breath-taking scenery, and climate make for an ideal retirement destination.


Visas and Residency

Three primary kinds of residence attract expatriates looking to live in Costa Rica: the Retiree or Pensionado program, the Legal Resident Program, and the Investor/Inversionista program.

The pensionado program in Costa Rica is a resident program for expatriates who are up to retirement age and are willing to live in this country. The process is very easy, and the lower cost of living keeps pensioners coming because it allows them to live comfortably on their monthly payouts.

You can also get residency in Costa Rica via the Legal Resident category for persons of independent means. You’ll need proof of a regular monthly income of at least US$2,500.

With this residency permit, you can set up a business or work remotely, but you can’t work for a local company until you have permanent residency (possible after three years).

Invest in La Isla Tortuga, Costa Rica
Beautiful Isla Tortuga (Turtle Island)

You can also get an Investor residency and you will need a minimum investment of $150,000 to obtain Costa Rican residency.

Unlike Panama, you can go through the process of getting a Costa Rican visa without the help of a lawyer. However, if you are not fluent in Spanish and want to avoid any form of setback, you could seek the assistance of a lawyer.



Costa Rica boasts one of Latin America’s most sophisticated healthcare systems that ranks 36 in the world -one spot above the US- in the World Health Organisation’s global healthacare list. Expats have an option between public and private health care, which provides universal health care to all citizens and permanent residents. 

The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, or Caja., oversees the public healthcare system.

The Caja manages fifteen public hospitals that provide outstanding health care to citizens and permanent residents throughout the nation. Smaller clinics for check-ups and brief medical examinations may be found in every town in the country.

Costa Rica is gradually becoming a popular medical tourism destination due to its excellent standards and low healthcare prices. Costa Rica is also well-known for its private dental care.


Real Estate

Irrespective of the location you choose, there is a lot of bargain real estate to either buy or rent. You can buy a three-bed villa in the Central Valley starting at $119,000, or you can rent it for $500 a month. 


Beautiful view pacific coast beach, Costa Rica
Beautiful views from pacific coast of Costa Rica

A two-bed apartment, next to the beach in a beautiful town on the central Pacific coast will cost about $650 a month to rent and around $160,000 to buy. Similar deals can be found throughout the country.

Expats enjoy the same real estate rights as residents in most cases. That implies you can own property in your name or the name of a business, and you don’t require a local partner.

The only exception to this rule is beachfront concession land, which is subject to other legislation.


Best Places to live in Costa Rica

Places like Atenas, San Ramón, and Tamarindo are some of the best places to live in Costa Rica.



The tagline for Atenas is “the best climate in the world,” which may be correct. Atenas has a warm climate due to its 698m above sea level. Year-round temperatures range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F), eliminating the need for air conditioning and heating.

Atenas is midway between San José, the country’s capital, and the Pacific coast. This place provides inhabitants with the best of both worlds since it is close to hospitals and airports, as well as other amenities, while also being close to the tropical beaches.

Proximity to the US

The distance from Costa Rica to the United States is about 2,025 miles by air, which is approximately a 4-hour journey by air.

You may book a direct flight to the United States from San Jose or choose a stopover in i.e an airport in Panama.

Activities and Recreation

There are a whole lot of recreational or fun activities you could do in Costa Rica. This country is known for being one of the most beautiful and enriching places.

Drake Bay Kayak kayaking, costa rica
Kayaking in Drake Bay

Some of these activities you could do for fun in this country include hiking, kayaking, zipping, volcano trekking, exploring national parks, horse riding, and much more.

Trekking and hiking the Arenal volcano, Costa Rica
Trekking and hiking the Arenal volcano


Costa Rica is more than simply a rugged holiday destination for adventure lovers. It’s also an ideal place to retire, especially with its low cost of living and other benefits given to ex-pats. Its a safe country, the weather is good, and the food is excellent, there are a tone of activities to do, from golf, to surfing, to hiking, to biking to kayaking and many more. But the most encouraging thing about retiring or just visiting Costa Rica is the beauty. Costa Rica is also one of the most affordable places to live in.


Surfing in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a surfing paradise for people of all skills and ages


Here is a list of the Pros and Cons of traveling, living, moving and retiring in Costa Rica