Retiring to Costa Rica – join the “pensionados”

Retiring to Costa Rica is a great option for anyone looking to relocate offshore. A good choice stretching the retirement dollar and it's only a short flight away from the US.

Costa Rica offers retirees many advantages and provides an enjoyable retirement without the constant worry about money.

Although there is a perception that retiring to Costa Rica is now "costa lotsa" that just isn’t true ... it still compares favourably with many other Central and South American destinations.

Retiring to Costa Rica is the complete package.

Tropical climate, low cost of living and natural beauty. Gorgeous Pacific and Caribbean beaches. Forests teeming with wildlife. An environmental policy that's targeted to make made the country the first carbon neutral country in the world. 98.5% of electricity generated by renewable resources.

Added to all these advantages is a top quality public health care system.

What more could you want?

Costa Rica gives investors access to an international standard infrastructure. An entrepreneurial business climate, and a positive attitude toward foreign investment. It's one of the safest and most attractive Latin American countries for foreign investors..

Costa Rica Parrot

Added to this is a well educated, productive and affordable workforce, and many business opportunities.

In retiring to Costa Rica you will be living in one of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world.

There is an abundance of water and fertile agricultural land. The landscape is a kaleidescope of volcanoes, beaches, mountains, jungle, and cloud and rain forests. The variety of terrain, temperature and diverse “macro” ecosystems creating many micro-ecosystems. With a wide range of fauna, flora and climate.

The benefits and advantages go on. 

Costa Rica doesn’t bother to have a standing army. So instead of ploughing money into military resources, the funds are allocated to highways, education, medical care and the cultural arts.

Add to the mix, the Costa Rican friendliness and hospitality and you have "pura vida". The literal translation is "pure life" but it's much more.

Used as a greeting and as a farewell; you can use it for “I’m doing well” or “Everything’s cool”; you can use it for “Oh well!” or “That’s life!” It also can be used for “You’re welcome” or “No worries” – or just about any exclamation like “That’s great!”.

Pura vida! the term that reflects life in Costa Rica.

With all the above benefits, an international airport in San Jose and the proximity to the US makes it one of the most attractive retirement destinations in the world.

Retirement in Costa Rica

Visa Options

When retiring to Costa Rica there are 3 temporary resident visa options. The most common is the "pensionado" category. This has the main requirement of a lifetime monthly pension from a verifiable source of at least US$1 000.

The other two categories is the income based "Rentistas" visa and the investment based "Inversionistas" visa

As a "pensionado", you do not have the legal right to work. However, you can own a company and collect income.

Standard of Living

Costa Rica has a high standard of living, but if relocating from the US this comes at a very modest price. For about US$1 500 a month you can live comfortably. At the budget level with careful living choices, you can get by on as little as US$1 000 a month.

Health Care

When retiring to Costa Rica you can expect to have access to excellent health care, amazing food and all the modern conveniences of "home".

Costa Rica has one of the best, low-cost medical systems in the world. With a focus on both preventive and curative care it is accessible, affordable and comprehensive. The added benefit ... if you're in need of some "nipping, tucking or sucking" it also offers excellent cosmetic surgery.

In most areas of the country, you can enjoy consistent and reliable access to modern communication ... internet, mobile phones, land lines and an efficient surface mail system.

Unlike most developing countries you will find this to be one of the cleanest countries in the world. This applies to the people, their homes and public facilities.

The Weather

Costa Rica is a true tropical paradise with the weather offering many wonderful choices. Warm temperatures (even during the rainy season), no real summer or winter, and sunny a lot of the time.

Though generally classified as a tropical country, because of its close proximity to the equator. The weather in Costa Rica can be divided into 4 distinct zones:

  1. The Lowlands, have a dry, climate with hot days and sultry evenings with temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius.
  2. The Highlands, due to their higher elevation, they are misty and foggy throughout the year. Here the temperatures average about 13 degree Celsius.
  3. The Central Valley has the best climate in the country with average temperatures of around 22 degrees Celsius. The temperatures tempered by a cool coastal breeze.
  4. The Caribbean Coast has its own unique micro-climate. With trade winds keeping the weather hot and humid most of the year. It rains often and there is no real dry season.

Costa Rica Girl

The coolest months of the year are November, December and January, with March through to May being the hottest.

The rainy season lasts from May to November. With the months of December through April having little to no rain. While the average annual rainfall in the country is around 250 centimetres, some mountainous areas get up to 750 centimetres.

Things to Consider

As most people in Costa Rica speak Spanish, it would be advisable to learn the language. This will help you to engage, understand and appreciate the people and their culture.

If you are retiring to Costa Rica from a first world country you will have to make some adjustments. The easiest of these will be from your current fast, frenetic, stressful lifestyle to the gentle, spirited, friendly, polite and kind "pura vida" Costa Rican way of life.

Adjusting to a new environment and culture may not be easy if you have not travelled a lot or lived in different countries. When retiring to Costa Rica, there will be changes which you should be willing to make.

As with any major decision, when considering your options … take your time and do your homework.

Costa Rica is a beautiful, affordable retirement option.

“In our around the world trip we had planned to stay in Costa Rica for about 2 weeks ... we stayed for over 5 weeks and loved it . We'll definitely be going back ”

My Impressions

Here are links to some of the articles I wrote when we were there:




SEPA Spanish School

San Jose

Bus Travel

Cheapest Places to Retire: Many of the cheapest are amongst the World's most exotic

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