Choosing Costa Rica For Retirement: The Current Landscape

We have been receiving many questions lately from people wondering if Costa Rica is still the retirement destination it was before the world economy faltered.  Has Costa Rica been affected?  How is the economy in Costa Rica today?  Is it still a country friendly to Americans?  Or, is it being overrun with foreigners looking for a cheaper place to live?

Costa Rica is, in fact, still a terrific place to retire.  In the five years that we have been in Costa Rica, we have only seen the local economy growing by leaps and bounds.  Companies such as Manpower, Oracle, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and other major international companies are firmly established and all are hiring.  This has produced an even healthier middle class, as Costa Ricans have more opportunities than ever.  This economic growth is a refreshing alternative to the gloom and doom of the more developed nations.

Even within Central America, Costa Rica is a standout, which makes it more attractive than ever for the retiree looking for stability and safety.  Other previous contenders for luring investment and retirement money have fallen by the wayside.  Mexico has been particularly hard-hit by a corrupt central government, drug wars, and violence even in previously safe tourist destinations.  Nicaragua, once thought to be the “new Costa Rica” has allowed the old Sandanista regime to return and loot the country once again.  Costa Rica, on the other hand has stayed with the progressive, pro-business government started by Oscar Arias (a Nobel Peace Prize winner), by going a step further and electing their first woman president, Laura Chinchilla.

The business development and continuing growth of the middle class is something that resonates strongly with people from other democratic nations, and is a value that Costa Ricans treasure.  Costa Ricans are welcoming to all people who believe in independence, self-sufficiency and social values.

Rather than being a country overrun with foreigners, we have seen integration promoted vigorously.  New residency laws aim to attract people who already have a stable life from their home country.  The residency process is being made easier, and new proposals such as tax and business incentives, as well as a proposal slated for September whereby a person’s home purchase can be used toward the residency requirement are positive steps in welcoming and comforting those who choose the expatriate lifestyle.

And for the future?  Costa Rica has weathered the worst, and come out stronger.  Tight lending policies have always existed in Costa Rica and appropriately got stronger during the crisis.  There was some over development along the Pacific Coast that drove down prices in those areas, but areas like ours in the San Ramon section of the Central Valley remained stable, as condo-style building is not permitted.  Additionally, the Central Valley is an area where people choose to retire to full time, as opposed to the beach areas which are vacation, or second and third homes.

When all is considered, Costa Rica is a better choice for retirement than it ever has been.  We strongly recommend on of our retirement tours which is a cost-effective way for you to see for yourself if Costa Rica is right for YOU.


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