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Living Outside the USA: Costa Rica

Updated on December 20, 2011

I know few US citizens who have moved to Costa Rica to have the "high" life on the cheap, living off their savings or retirement. They talk with nothing but accolades for the move, away from the homeland and how it is far cheaper it is, the beautiful landscapes and near perfect weather all year (next to Panama). There are many reasons for Americans to move to the country: it has a stable democracy, near a ocean, cheaper housing, great coffee and a cost of living 50% less and only 4.6 million people.

Most Americans arrive on a 90 day Visa, afterwhich, they must leave the country for 36 hrs, afterwhich, they may return for another 90 days. Many simply go to Panama for the 36 hrs. and return. To apply for residency, US citizens must show proof that have a monthly income of $1000 from a permanent pension or other source. One could become a resident by getting Social Security. There are plenty of other foreigners with the same idea there from Europe. Many stay only during the dry period, from November through March.

Today, you can buy an acre of land and a 2-bedroom home for $100-300K. Property taxes are around $100 and electricity is $50-150 a month. Healthcare is similar to the systems in the USA, but for $1500 a year, a plan will cover everything. About the worse part of living there is the cost of items most use: gasoline is $14 a gallon! Whatever is imported is expensive. Since Cheetos chips are imported, they cost $6 a bag. Whatever food that is grown locally, is cheap. One dollar for three cantalopes, $2 for 2 lbs. of rice and beans, 2lbs of beef is $4.

The hardest part to permanently move there is the moving itself, the goodbyes, the different customs you must adapt to and often you will realize just how good it is in the messed up place called America. As John Lennon once sang, "you never know what you've got, until you lose it".


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the corrections.

    • surf traveler profile image

      surf traveler 

      6 years ago

      Yes imported items are costly. Buying local produce is the best for health and the wallet. Gasoline isn't $14 a gallon. The price is set each month by the government. The current price is 635 colones per liter which works out to around $1.27 per liter (about $5 a gallon).

    • poetvix profile image


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      I have seen a few episodes of house hunting shows centered there and it looks beautiful. Considering the current political climate and cost of living, I imagine this destination will be growing exponentially in popularity.


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