Retiring and Investing in Costa Rica: Q&A

While we receive a steady stream of questions about our organic communities, we receive many more about what it is like to live in Costa Rica.  Below are some of the key questions and answers one should consider when conducting their basic research about retiring or investing in Costa Rica

What is the cost of living?

One of the greater perks in living in Costa Rica, besides the incredible climate, scenery, and people, is the low cost of living. According to an IMF study, $1,000 USD in purchasing power in the U.S. will get you approximately $2,030 in Costa Rica. So, whatever you may be spending a month currently, you could essentially double your standard of living simply by relocating to paradise. Or, you could potentially cut your budget in half with little to no sacrifice. Through the Boomers in Costa Tour we introduce future retirees and investors to not only the professionals and products to make this possible, but to a life style they can be proud of.

Is health care accessible and what is the quality?

According to the World Health Organization, Costa Rica actually ranks higher than the United States for its established health care system. It’s not only accessible, but it’s pleasantly affordable. We will introduce you to an array of health care options at much lower costs than you’re accustomed to.  Costa Rica is now one of the leading destinations in the world for both cosmetic surgery, as well as routine procedures.  For those living in Costa Rica permanently, the Caja (public) system is certainly adequate and entitles residents to free medication in many instances.  For those who elect to pay for private care, costs average at roughly $3,000-4,000 per year for couples over 70.  CIMA hospital is associated with Baylor University in the States and is considered to be the best in Central America.  Rooms are more similar to hotel rooms than the standard hospital fare.  No one wants to go to to the hospital, but from those we have spoken to, they report that their doctor spoke English, was compassionate, spent much more than the average 5 minutes in the U.S. and there was a dedicated nurse in attendance.

Are there many expats Costa Rica?

While it is impossible to know exactly how many expats are here, as most are unregistered perpetual tourists, it is estimated that about 50,000 own real estate. The number is expected to grow exponentially as the 78 million baby boomers that exist in the U.S. alone are only beginning to retire and look at retirement options.

What type of people are moving to/investing in Costa Rica?

We find the vast majority fit into one of the following 4 categories:

  • Retirees looking to relocate.
  • Part-time residents looking for a vacation home
  • Baby Boomers who are retiring early or want to drop out of the ‘rat race, ‘ and are searching for an alternative career or business.
  • Investors looking for a better return on their current investments.

And there are a couple of new categories of arrivals:

  • Young professionals who can telecommute from Costa Rica.  Now that communications infrastructure is on par with the U.S. (at least in the Central Valley), we are meeting more and more 30-somethings who are choosing to work from Costa Rica in industries such as marketing, legal, publishing, etc.
  • Independence-minded people focused on self-sufficiency.  Recent political developments in the U.S. have brought in a new wave of arrivals who are focusing on Costa Rica’s dedication to peace and self sufficiency.  Costa Rica’s economy is still very local, which lends itself to a rural strength that supports those who value organic living, sustainable communities, and the independent lifestyle.  Furthermore, the Costa Rican government is dedicated to green initiatives; the country already produces 95% of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to be a net exporter in coming years.  Recent tax incentives for those who import green technology further solidifies Costa Rica’s dedication to the environment.

What has been the trend in the Costa Rican real estate market?

Costa Rica continues to see real estate price appreciation in many areas. In a July, 2007 study by “Reveal Real Estate” an organization that tracks international real estate, Costa Rica remains the most sought-after real estate destination in Central America. While it is a mature market, Reveal also found that this country offers a good balance between “risk and reward” but still offers significant capital appreciation over other investments.  Even after the fallout from the global crisis — a very slow 2009 — banks are lending again, development has re-started, and real estate has stabilized.  Important to note is that even long-time real estate investors such as Henry Kaufman have staked their claim in Costa Rica.  According to Kaufman, “Costa Rica made no mistakes during the crisis.”  What Kaufman is referring to is the fact that Costa Rica has never had easy credit.  As a result, with the exception of some of the overdeveloped beach areas, Costa Rica real estate is owned outright and not over leveraged.  Now Costa Rica is emerging stronger than ever.  In fact, strong opportunities exist within certain regions, such as the Central Valley where we are located — retirees have chosen to live here full time in most cases, keeping inventory low.

Is Costa Rica safe?

Costa Rica is extremely safe for expats. Obviously urban areas like San José tend to have more crime, but the majority is in the form of petty theft. Our tour introduces you to areas that are known for their safety. Peace is something the Costa Ricans cherish and want to preserve; the military was abolished in 1948 and Costa Ricans have no desire to emulate the history of their neighbors in Central America. The government is stable, more democratic than the United States, and Costa Ricans are refreshingly active in their questioning of their government.

Learn more about Costa Rica by taking our highly recommended tour: Boomers Tours


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