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Top 10 Reasons to Retire in Costa Rica

By Keith Macartney / February 21st, 2013 / 1 Comment

For many years, Costa Rica has topped the charts as one of the world’s most attractive retirementdestinations. Thanks to its convenient location, comparatively low cost of living, and modern health care system, the country continues to draw thousands of retirees each year who transition into the pura vida lifestyle that epitomizes this Central American nation.

Here’s our top ten list of why you should consider retiring in beautiful Costa Rica.

Peaceful and Stable
Rest easy in the knowledge that Costa Rica is one of Latin America’s most stable countries. For more than 60 years, Costa Rica has prospered peaceably without an army, with democratic presidential elections held every four years. With no military to speak of, government funds are poured into education and environmental conservation. Costa Rica has a large, educated middle class and enjoys relatively low crime rates.

Proximity to North America
What many don’t realize is just how close Costa Rica lies to the continental U.S. A direct flight to Miami takes just over two hours; Houston is less than four hours away, and Los Angeles can be reached in five and a half hours. This convenient location means quick and easy travel for visiting friends and family.

Excellent Medical Care
The United Nations ranked Costa Rica’s public health system within the top 20 worldwide. As a legal resident of Costa Rica, you’ll be required to pay into this system ($30-50 per month), known as the Caja. Benefits include yearly check-ups and some prescription medications, in addition to preventive care like dental exams. Many retirees opt to supplement with private insurance ($70-$150 per month), which gives you access to the country’s top private facilities, known for their highly-trained bilingual staff and cutting-edge technology.

Mild Weather
No more bitter winters or shoveling snow! For temperate spring weather year-round, consider moving to the Central Valley, where daytime temperatures hover in the mid 70’s and rarely soar above 85ΒΊ F. The country’s diverse geography equals distinct microclimates and weather patterns; choose from balmy beach warmth, cool mountain living, or the moderate climate found around San Jose and the Central Valley.

Better Quality of Life
Leave the rat race behind and savor the laid-back lifestyle known as pura vida in Costa Rica. Costa Ricans report the highest life satisfaction in the world and have the second-highest average life expectancy of the Americas. Enjoy life’s simple pleasures: spending time with new friends, buying healthy produce at the local farmers’ market, or just enjoying the great outdoors.

Established Expat Community
An estimated 50,000 U.S. citizens reside in Costa Rica, which means a built-in welcome committee in nearly every city and town. Keep an active and fulfilling social life by joining the local birding club, bridge association, theatre group, or hiking club.

Low Cost of Living
Despite rising food and gasoline prices, Costa Rica still offers more bang for your buck. If you live simply by cooking in and using public transportation on occasion,your Social Security pension or nest egg savings will stretch much further. House rentals can be had for as little as $250 a month, and labor and service costs are a fraction of their North American counterparts. A budget of $1500 or less monthly will afford you a comfortable lifestyle.

Natural Beauty
Whether you fancy country living, ocean breezes, or the buzz of city life, Costa Rica’s diminutive size – about the same as West Viginia – means easy access to volcanoes, mountains and beaches within a day’s drive. Immerse yourself in nature amid the country’s numerous parks and reserves; more than 25% of the country is protected land, so you can explore and enjoy its abundant natural wonders.

Affordable Real Estate
From dazzling beachfront properties to cozy chalets in the countryside, Costa Rica’s real estate market continues to expand with opportunities to rent or buy some fabulous pieces of paradise. Buying real estate in Costa Rica is a safe venture, thanks to the country’s protective laws. Foreigners enjoy the same rights as do Costa Ricans in terms of property ownership. Stick to lesser-known towns and avoid tourist areas for the best deals, and always rent before you buy to test-drive your potential new home.

Simple Residency
With proof of $1,000 in monthly income, you’re on your way to becoming a pensionado – Costa Rica’s easy residency for North American retirees. The requirements are minimal: live in Costa Rica at least four months per year and pay into the local public health care system. You’re allowed to own a company and collect income, as well claim your spouse and dependants under the age of 18.