Jason Mueller is Canadian and moved to Costa Rica four years ago. We thank him for this lovely article where he gives us his top tips on moving to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is one of the most popular places in the world for expats and retirees and with good reason. It’s a beautiful, laid back country where a person can live affordably. Moving to Costa Rica can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to turn for information on procedures for Customs, shipping personal property and regulations that you will need to adhere to to stay in the country.
First, here is why so many people want to move to Costa Rica. While there are some extremely luxurious, and expensive homes in Costa Rica, you can also find many areas that are affordable whether you want to live right on the beach or further inland. There are not many places on earth where you can enjoy a city life but also check out volcanoes, spacious parks, a wide array of jungle plant and animal life and even enjoy an exciting nightlife. On top of it all, Costa Rica has a climate that is envied by many around the world.
One of the few negative aspects of relocating to Costa Rica as an expat is that you can only stay for up to 90 days at a time. You will need to either apply for permanent residency or you will need to leave every few months for at least a few days before returning. This is frowned on by the government, but it is something that many expats do when they relocate to Costa Rica.
Steps to Moving to Costa Rica
The first thing you’ll need to do is take time to carefully research companies online to find an international mover and auto shipping company who can get your personal belongings and car moved efficiently and safely.
One of the most important things to find out when planning to move overseas to Costa Rica is whether the company has experience with Costa Rican Customs and how often they have shipped to or from the country before. Here are some of the top tips you should consider when moving abroad to Costa Rica.
Before moving, you need to determine which residency category you will fit in. A retiree will usually fall into the “pensionado” category, which means they are retired and receive a pension from their previous employer or the government. Pensions need to be no less than $1000 USD monthly.
Another type of residency is as a small investor, or rentista who makes more than $2500 USD or also a big investor known as an inversionista who can invest at least $200,000 USD in a business.
Once you have lived as a temporary resident on a retiree or investor residency visa, you will be able to apply for permanent residency.
2. Rent Before You Buy
A beachfront home might look like the most beautiful home you’ve ever seen, but before signing your money away to buy, check into renting first. This way, you can try living in an area that seems perfect to you before you jump into buying something and then finding out the neighborhood may not be as ideal as you believed.
3. Be Ready to Spend Some Money
You might have been told that you could move to Costa Rica, live in a luxury villa right on the beach, dine on gourmet foods and spend nights out on the town every night while living on $20,000 annually. If this is in your head, you need to erase everything you’ve been told right now.
Yes, you can live in Costa Rica for a fraction of what it might cost in some areas of the United States, but live like a king for mere pennies a day? It is not going to happen. The fact is, yes you can live an affordable life in Costa Rica, but if you want a luxury life, it will cost more.
4. Working in Costa Rica
You can work in Costa Rica as an expat, but if it is at all possible, you will want to have a job already where you can work online for yourself or for a company in your current country. Employers will hire expats to work in local hotels, bars, restaurants and other touristy businesses, but for the most part, these jobs will not pay well, and your wages will be under the table and not reported. Employers often do not want to take the necessary steps to obtaining a work visa for foreigners. Once you know the area well, entering the real estate industry can be a good way to earn money in Costa Rica as there are always tourists looking for vacation homes.
5. Study the Climate
When you think about Costa Rica, it’s easy to see nothing but sunny days, warm weather and gorgeous rays of light that are perfect for that glowing tan you always wanted to have year-round. Let’s not beat around the bushes here, the weather in Costa Rica is an envy for anyone who lives where it is cold, but while it may be sunny and dry in one place, it can be rainy and windy just down the road. Check the climate data out to see what to expect in areas that interest you.
As with any other move, learn about the country and schedule professionals to ship your belongings over. When you arrive, it’s best to learn where shopping and places of interest are as well as meeting local people who live nearest your home and the places you plan to spend your time. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your new life in Costa Rica.