Guide to move to Costa Rica from the US

Guide to move to Costa Rica from the US

Guide to move to Costa Rica from the US

Pack your things! A comprehensive guide to moving to Costa Rica from the US

Are you considering a move to Costa Rica from the US? If so, then keep reading as this is a comprehensive guide to all things Costa Rica and will tell you all you need to know before making the big move. This tropical paradise is one of the most well-liked locations for ex-pats to live, study, work remotely and retire. 

The country’s stunning natural beauty, from its beaches to its tropical rainforests has something for all thrill-seekers alike. Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity, with its protected jungles teeming with wildlife from spider monkeys to jaguars. If you’re looking for an exciting change of pace, then Costa Rica is the place for you. 

Reasons people move to Costa Rica from the US

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise

If you're considering a move to Costa Rica, there are a few things you should know about the country's natural assets. First and foremost, Costa Rica is an incredibly biodiverse country located in a tropical climate zone. It is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. From monkeys to butterflies and beaches to jungles and volcanoes, it offers nature lovers an abundance of things to do and places to see. 

Costa Rica is well known for its national parks, which cover about a fifth of the country's total land area. The first national park in Costa Rica was created in 1971, and since then the country has continued to create new parks and preserve its existing ones. For Costa Ricans their national parks are a great source of pride.

Cost of living in Costa Rica

One of the biggest perks of moving to Costa Rica from the United States is the decreased cost of living. Consumer prices, rent prices, restaurant prices and grocery prices are all much lower in Costa Rica than in the US, according to Numbeo. According to International Living, a well-known lifestyle publication, ex-pats from the United States and Canada spend less money on a daily basis in Costa Rica than they do in their own countries. 

According to the magazine, "many elderly couples live well on $2,000 a month and much better on $2,500 to $3,000," while "a single person can live on or between $1,400 and $1,700 a month." Of course, different lifestyle choices will affect the cost of living accordingly. Although those who reside in well-known tourist areas might expect to pay extra on a daily basis, foreigners will discover that the country is generally very affordable.

The Pura Vida Lifestyle

Pura Vida is a national cliche for a reason, its literal translation is ‘Pure Life’ but is also similar to saying ‘this is the life’, which is fitting for the Costa Rican lifestyle. Costa Rica has the best of both worlds, with both an urban and rural lifestyle available to you. Cities like San Jose have many great things to offer from food and markets to the opera house and the fantastic Museo del Oro Precolombino in the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. Additionally, if you’re looking for a more relaxed lifestyle, Costa Rica has some of the best seaside towns with lots of surfing, beach bars and outdoor dining.

Costa Rica’s warm, tropical weather mixed with its incredibly stunning coastlines makes for perfect seaside living. Its selection of mountains, volcanoes and rainforests is perfect for active hikers. 

The country’s annual temperature is between 70 degrees and 81 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a warm place to live. Also, the hot, tropical climate means exotic fruits thrive in Costa Rica, like dragon fruit, papaya and guava, which are bound to tickle your taste buds while also inspiring a healthy diet and lifestyle. 

Housing in Costa Rica

Just like in any country, housing prices depend on where you want to live, whether it be in rural or urban areas. However, compared to the US, Costa Rica's housing market is more affordable. Rent in Costa Rica is 71% lower than in the United States. Ordinarily, the more metropolitan areas are the most expensive, with a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of San Jose costing on average USD$600-740 per month. Although still expensive, it is a far cry from the price of a one-bedroom in Manhattan or Los Angeles nowadays. 

If you decide to live outside the city centers and prefer a more rural area, rent prices decrease dramatically. The average rent for a one-bedroom outside the city center comes in at $322, according to Numbeo. 

Owning your own home in Costa Rica is also a possibility as non-residents have the same rights as locals and are allowed to buy property. Owning your own home in the United States gets harder each year so, with the affordable housing prices in Costa Rica, you can become a homeowner easily. 

Universal Healthcare in Costa Rica

A huge bonus with moving to Costa Rica from the US is the easy access to healthcare. The healthcare system in Costa Rica is government-run and is frequently cited as one of the best in the world. The country is ranked 36th in the world by the World Health Organization, above the United States. 

In addition to having excellent healthcare, medical costs are relatively low compared to the US, with private medical visits, tests, and even complex surgeries being ¼ to ⅓ of the price in the United States. Universal healthcare has been one of the leading factors in expats' decision to seek residency in Costa Rica, especially in their later years.

Bringing your pet to Costa Rica from the US

You couldn’t make the move to Costa Rica without your furry friend by your side! However, it is standard to have proper documentation for your pet before entering any country and Costa Rica is no exception. 

When entering Costa Rica from the US, you need a Veterinary Certificate completed by a licensed veterinarian, as well as proof of vaccinations such as rabies shots. Costa Rica is regarded as a very pet-friendly country with many pet-friendly beaches and outdoor spaces, making it easy to incorporate your pet into your new lifestyle. 

3 commonly asked questions about moving to Costa Rica from the US

Is living in Costa Rica worth it?
Yes, it is worth living in Costa Rica as the lifestyle is amazing. Costa Rica’s amazing beaches, food, and affordable cost of living make living there worth it. 

What is the quality of life in Costa Rica?
The quality of life in Costa Rica is very good compared to other neighboring countries. It has one of the best healthcare systems in the world and an affordable cost of living. It has a great warm climate and stunning beaches and natural history which people enjoy year-round. 

Where to move to in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has both busy cities as well as chilled seaside towns. San Jose and Heredia are great cities for ex-pats to live in. Smaller towns along the Central Pacific Coast are also popular for ex-pats to settle down in, like Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo.

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We had so much fun at Buena Vista. Thanks for arranging that with Memo.
I also want to say many thanks for all that you have done. We have enjoyed Costa Rica and I have found you so helpful with everything and a pleasure to deal with that it was a very stress free vacation. When I do come back here hopefully you will still be doing what what you do.
Our last couple of days will be spent enjoying the sunshine and eating at great restaurants. Sincerely,

Tara, Kevin and Roy., Costa Rica

While my computer is still running here, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank you for your help during our stay.
When we first came to your office, we were in dire straights and in desperate need of assistance. Andrea was extremely compassionate, spoke with candor, and had a "can do attitude" that was of immense help.
In addition, Andrea has put us in contact with Steve, with whom we are working, preparing to view a little property that might be just what we are looking for at this particular time.
In addition, having gotten to know Andrea personally as well as professionally has been our great pleasure. I wanted to let you know what a tremendous asset she is to your company. She is a great treasure -- a one in a million.

Tina Parker, Costa Rica

We are- UNHAPPILY- home safe. Would much rather be back in Tamarindo. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING you did to make our stay a joy ! We look very much forward to seeing you on our next trip to Costa Rica. PURA VIDA !

Steve Perry, Costa Rica

Laurel and Tony,
The both of you were fantastic with us throughout the property search and purchase process. As we had mentioned, two other attempts to find thorough, attentive, responsive agents to work with in Tamarindo were failures. I expect that we are more work to deal with than many others as we asked a lot of thorough and analytical questions and expected responses to all of them. You two never failed to deliver. The organization and execution of our condo shopping trip in January was excellent and the fact that you two devoted 2 full days to us, around our schedule, to get this deal done was key to our success. The selection of properties that Laurel planned out, including a few places above and below our target zone helped us to refine our interests. We truly appreciated your interest in our success. This could easily have been very stressful for us, and yet, it wasn’t. Thank you very much.
As a side note, when we walked into the Coldwell Banker office randomly with no appointment in November had we not found your office staff patient and accommodating from the start we would have simply walked on to the next agency. Your staff deserves special mention for getting us interested in the agency to begin with.
We will give you some advance notice before we make our first trip down so that we can plan to get together for lunch or dinner. We are tentatively planning on somewhere in the last 2 weeks of May, as soon as our son gets out of school for the summer.

Dan Batliner, Costa Rica
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