Costa Rica has long beckoned travelers and soon-to-be residents with its stunning natural beauty, rich culture, and laid-back lifestyle. Whether you’re a retiree seeking a tropical paradise or a remote worker yearning for a vibrant change of scenery, Costa Rica offers something special. But beyond the postcard-perfect beaches and lush rainforests, there’s the practical side of moving to a new country.

This comprehensive guide will equip you with the essential information you need to make your Costa Rican dream a reality. We’ll do a deep dive into housing and luxury home considerations for your move to Costa Rica, but also cover relevant topics from residency visas, to family options, and public and private services available. Get ready to explore moving to Costa Rica.

Checklist to Prepare for Your Move to Costa Rica

Ensure your passport is valid, and gather all necessary legal documents, including birth certificates and marriage certificates, if applicable. Find more information here.

Research health services and insurance options in Costa Rica. The country offers high-quality healthcare services, with options for both public and private healthcare.

Public healthcare is a right for every Costa Rican resident. Fees are usually paid for from the company you work for, unless you work independently. In every case, the total sum and percentage you pay will depend on your monthly earnings. Getting help from accounting services may clarify how much you must pay and how. You can find information on our public healthcare system here.

On the other hand, private health systems may offer a wider variety of packages and faster service. Find more information in sections below.

Consider your banking options and ensure you have access to your funds. Setting up a local bank account can facilitate transactions once you arrive. The two most recognized public banks are Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional. Below you can find a list of renowned private banks to review and find the one which might fit your profile in the best way:

Costa Rica’s climate varies by region, so pack accordingly. A particular characteristic of Costa Rica is that, even though we don’t get extreme freezing or heat cycles, weather changes tremendously from area to area. Traveling for as little as 15 minutes can mean a change in temperature and dressing needs. Since our country has so many different elevations, it can go from a chilly feeling at our mountains, to a humid warmth in the coasts, so take this into account if you want to travel around. Also, consider shipping larger items or purchasing them locally to furnish your new home.

A Look at Key Living Areas

Central Valley West

Escazú and Santa Ana are trendy suburbs experiencing explosive growth, boasting a warm climate year-round. They are home to some of the country’s most coveted residential communities, such as Cerro Alto, Villa Real, La Hacienda and Valle del Sol. Upscale shopping malls, gourmet restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife scene make them ideal for those seeking a sophisticated lifestyle. The area offers a dynamic environment with excellent schools, modern amenities, and a growing international community. The proximity to business centers makes them attractive for professionals working in zonas francas (free trade zones).

Yet, you’re still close to stunning natural beauty with easy access to rainforests and adventure activities. In fact, popular towns such as Atenas, Grecia, and Naranjo are known for their friendly atmosphere and cooler temperatures. The invigorating climate and abundance of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and white-water rafting make this region a haven for active adults.

Nestled strategically between the bustling city center of San José and the suburbs of Escazú and Santa Ana lies Rohrmoser, a highly sought-after neighborhood offering a blend of convenience, comfort, and urban vibrancy. Rohrmoser is home to the country’s fastest growing vertical community hub, and its central location is a major draw for both professionals and families. Easy access to major roadways allows for quick commutes to business districts and surrounding areas. The Juan Santamaría International Airport is also conveniently close, making international travel a breeze.

For families, Rohrmoser boasts excellent schools, including prestigious institutions like the British School of Costa Rica and Humboldt School. Rohrmoser also encourages an active lifestyle, with La Sabana Park, a sprawling urban oasis, just a stone’s throw away.

Central Valley East

Step into a more traditional Costa Rican way of life in this eastern region. Explore charming towns like Turrialba and Cartago, boasting rich cultural heritage and a slower pace. The eastern slopes of the volcanoes offer opportunities for thrilling adventures like white-water rafting and volcano exploration.

Closer to the city center, lies San Pedro a haven for families and young professionals. Home to the prestigious University of Costa Rica (UCR) and several other esteemed educational institutions, San Pedro boasts a youthful energy and intellectual atmosphere.

The city also offers a plethora of recreational activities for families. Enjoy a day at the Indoor Club, explore the interactive exhibits at the Children’s Museum, or head outdoors for a picnic in the Parque Nacional (National Park).

The eastern Central Valley offers a more affordable cost of living compared to the west. The proximity to San José allows for easy access to the capital’s amenities while providing a quieter and more family-oriented environment.

Within Central Valley East, you’ll find areas such as San Pedro, Curridabat, Tres Ríos and Granadilla, where there is a wide availability of LX homes. Monterán and Hacienda Gregal are the two most renowned residential communities in the area for their exclusive homes, amenities and security.

Heredia

Routes to Heredia

Heredia, the charming capital of the province of the same name, beckons those seeking a blend of urban convenience and a slower pace of life. Just a short drive from San José, this historic city boasts beautiful colonial architecture, including the iconic Fortín de Heredia, a testament to its rich past.

Nature lovers will find green havens like Bosque de la Hoja (Leaf Forest), a 20-hectare urban park perfect for picnics, jogging, or simply enjoying the outdoors. The city is known for its excellent educational institutions, including the esteemed Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (National University of Costa Rica), attracting a youthful and intellectual crowd.

Whether you’re seeking a central location with historical charm or a family-friendly environment close to nature, Heredia offers a delightful, small town Costa Rican experience. Santo Domingo, San Rafael, and San Isidro are some off the main residential areas in Heredia, showcasing specific gated communities such as Arcadia and Lomas del Zurquí.

Alajuela

This city, located west of San José, is home to Juan Santamaría International Airport and boasts a thriving business district with several free trade zones.

Multinational companies have a presence here, creating a wealth of job opportunities across various industries. Alajuela offers a good balance between urban convenience and access to nature, with volcanoes and hot springs nearby. Hacienda Espinal and Hacienda Los Reyes are two of the most renowned communities in the province, serving as first-level residential oasis.

Pacific Coast

Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast stretches along the northwestern side of the country, beckoning warmth, surfers, and nature enthusiasts with its endless stretches of golden sand, turquoise waters, and rainforests.

In Guanacaste, the northern part of the pacific coast, world-renowned beaches like Tamarindo, Playa Grande, and Flamingo, as well as coastal towns such as Nosara, have transformed into a surfer’s paradise. The area has its own airport, making it highly convenient. Consistent waves cater to all skill levels, from gentle rollers for beginners to challenging breaks for experienced surfers. Surf camps and rentals are abundant, making it easy to catch your first wave or hone your skills.

Guanacaste offers a variety of towns and communities, each with its own unique charm. Tamarindo pulsates with a vibrant nightlife scene, while Playa Conchal exudes a more secluded and tranquil vibe. For a taste of local culture, explore the charming town of Liberia, Guanacaste’s capital, known for its colonial architecture and traditional markets.

Guanacaste caters to those seeking a luxurious Costa Rican experience. Upscale resorts lining the beaches offer world-class amenities, championship golf courses, and pampering spas. Fine dining options abound, serving fresh seafood and international cuisine alongside breathtaking ocean views.

Puntarenas, on the other hand, offers a more rustic and authentic Costa Rican experience. While still boasting beautiful beaches, the pace here is slower, allowing you to truly unwind and soak up the natural beauty. Explore the pristine shores of Manuel Antonio National Park, a haven for wildlife watching, or boat through the Damas Estuary, teeming with crocodiles, monkeys, and diverse birdlife.

Compared to Guanacaste, Puntarenas offers a more affordable option for beach lovers. Charming beach towns like Montezuma, Santa Teresa and Sámara provide a laid-back atmosphere and a variety of locally-owned hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants. Residential communities such as Hacienda Pinilla ensure a calm living experience.

Puntarenas’ strategic location makes it a perfect base for exploring other parts of Costa Rica. Take a day trip to the Arenal Volcano National Park or explore the hidden waterfalls and hot springs scattered throughout the region.

Caribbean Coast

Caribbean

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast beckons travelers seeking a unique blend of Afro-Caribbean culture, lush rainforests teeming with wildlife, and pristine beaches with a calm, protected vibe. Here’s a deeper look at what this captivating region offers:

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is the crown jewel, pulsating with reggae music, delicious local cuisine like rice and beans with coconut milk, and a laid-back island atmosphere. Explore the rich history at the Afro-Caribbean museum and experience the warmth of the local people.

The Caribbean Coast boasts a lush rainforest paradise. Tortuguero National Park, accessible only by boat, is a haven for sea turtles nesting on the beaches and diverse wildlife like jaguars, sloths, and caimans inhabiting the dense rainforests. Explore the canals by boat, spot colorful birds, and witness the breathtaking beauty of this protected ecosystem.

Navigating the Climate Zones of Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s reputation as a tropical paradise isn’t just hype; it’s a reality shaped by its diverse climate zones. While the entire country enjoys warm temperatures year-round, understanding these variations is key to choosing your perfect Costa Rican home and living comfortably. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

Understanding the Seasons:

  • Dry Season (Verano): December to April brings sunshine, clear skies, and lower humidity. This is the peak tourist season, ideal for beach vacations and outdoor adventures. Rainfall is minimal, making it perfect for exploring rainforests without encountering downpours.
  • Rainy Season (Invierno): May to November sees increased rainfall, particularly in the afternoons. Lush rainforests thrive during this time, and the landscape explodes with vibrant greenery. Don’t worry, rain showers are typically brief and followed by sunshine, offering a refreshing break from the heat.

Beyond the Basics: A Look at Microclimates

Costa Rica’s diverse topography creates microclimates, with variations depending on elevation and proximity to the coast. Here’s a glimpse into some key areas:

  • Lowlands: Coastal regions and lowlands like Guanacaste and Limón experience hot and humid weather year-round, with average temperatures in the high 80s (°F). Rainfall is abundant throughout the year, with the rainy season bringing heavier downpours.

  • Highlands: As you climb in altitude, temperatures drop. The Central Valley, including San José, enjoys a spring-like climate with average temperatures in the mid-70s (°F) and comfortable nights. Rainfall is moderate throughout the year, with less intense showers compared to the lowlands.

  • Mountain Ranges: Areas like Monteverde and the Cordillera de Talamanca boast cooler temperatures, sometimes dipping into the 50s (°F) at night. Expect higher rainfall throughout the year, creating a misty and perpetually green environment.

Finding the Right Home for You and Your Family

Selecting the perfect home is paramount in your relocation process. LX Costa Rica specializes in luxury real estate, offering an exquisite collection of properties that cater to the sophisticated tastes of our clientele. When searching for your dream home, consider factors such as location, community amenities, and the lifestyle you envision.

Our extensive portfolio features properties in Costa Rica’s most sought-after areas, ensuring you find a home that not only meets but exceeds your expectations. Explore our website to discover the luxury homes that await you in Costa Rica. Here’s a glance at the types of properties you can find:

Legal Procedures and Documentation

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) is your one-stop shop for all things residency in Costa Rica. Their website offers a wealth of information, including:

Some Visa types you can find are:

  • Temporary Residence Visa: This category can encompass various programs, such as:
    • Pensionado (Retirement Visa): For retirees with a minimum monthly income.
    • Rentista (Investor Visa): For individuals with a significant investment in Costa Rica.
    • Work Visa: For those seeking employment in Costa Rica.
  • Student Visa: For individuals enrolled in educational programs in Costa Rica.
  • Dependent Visas: For spouses and children of residency visa holders.

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list, and the DGME website will provide the most accurate and current information on all available visa types.

While specific details can vary depending on the chosen program, here’s a general overview of residency requirements:

  • Valid Passport: This is the foundation for any residency application. Ensure your passport has sufficient validity (typically 6 months or more beyond your intended stay).
  • Birth Certificate: An original or apostilled copy of your birth certificate is usually required.
  • Criminal Background Check: A police background check (sometimes called a certificate of good conduct) from your home country is typically necessary.
  • Proof of Financial Solvency: Depending on the program, you may need to demonstrate financial stability. This could involve showing a minimum monthly income, bank statements, or proof of investment in Costa Rica.
  • Marriage certificate: Some programs and situations require a marriage certificate, only if applicable.

While details may vary depending on the chosen program, here’s a general overview of application procedures for moving to Costa Rica:

  1. Choose Your Residency Program: Research the various programs offered by the DGME and select the one that aligns with your goals and qualifications (retirement, investment, work, etc.).
  2. Gather Required Documents: Carefully review the DGME website for the specific document checklist associated with your chosen program. This will ensure you have everything necessary for a complete application.
  3. Prepare and Submit Application: The DGME website provides details on how to complete the application form and where to submit it (usually in person at a Costa Rican consulate or immigration office). Fees may apply.
  4. Attend Interview (if applicable): Depending on the program, you may be required to attend an interview with immigration officials.
  5. Await Processing: Processing times can vary, so factor this in while planning your move. The DGME website may offer information on expected processing timelines.

Remember:

  • All documents issued outside of Costa Rica must be apostilled or legalized according to the guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (https://www.rree.go.cr/).
  • The specific documents required may vary depending on your chosen residency program. It’s recommended to double-check the DGME website for the most current information.

Investor Visa

For investors, Costa Rica offers an attractive path to residency through property ownership. Here’s how the Investor Visa program can pave the way for moving to Costa Rica:

Eligibility: By acquiring a qualifying property valued at a minimum of $150,000 USD (not $200,000-$250,000 as previously mentioned), you become eligible to apply for residency under the “inversionista” (investor) category. This investment threshold makes Costa Rica a compelling option for international property buyers seeking residency.

Streamlined Process: Once your chosen property is successfully registered in your name or your company’s name, the residency application process kicks off. A separate legal procedure is initiated with Costa Rican immigration authorities, focusing on obtaining your residency status.

Timelines and Considerations: While the application process typically takes 6 to 8 months, it’s important to remember that this can vary depending on specific program requirements and the current workload of immigration authorities.

Benefits of Residency: Obtaining an investor visa through property purchase grants you residency status, opening doors to a fulfilling life in Costa Rica. With residency, you’ll enjoy a wide range of freedoms, allowing you to integrate seamlessly into the Costa Rican lifestyle (almost mirroring the rights of a citizen).

Legal and Financial Considerations for Expatriates

Understanding the legal and financial landscape is crucial for a smooth and secure experience while moving to Costa Rica. Here’s a starting point to navigate some key aspects:

Tax System Overview:

Costa Rica operates under a territorial tax system, meaning residents are generally taxed only on income generated within the country. This can be beneficial for expats with income sources outside of Costa Rica, such as pensions or rental income from their home country. However, it’s important to understand the specifics of your situation. Here’s a general breakdown:

  • Residency: Costa Rica’s residency categories (permanent, temporary, rentista) determine your tax obligations. Generally, residents are taxed on worldwide income, while non-residents only pay taxes on Costa Rican source income.

  • Income Tax: Costa Rica’s income tax system is progressive, with rates ranging from 0% to 25% on taxable income. Consult with a tax advisor to understand how your income would be categorized and taxed.

  • Property Tax: Property owners in Costa Rica pay an annual property tax, typically around 0.25% of the assessed value of the property.

  • Sales Tax: A 13% Value Added Tax (VAT) is applied to most goods and services.

Consulting with a qualified Costa Rican attorney and tax advisor is highly recommended. They can provide personalized advice on your specific situation, ensuring compliance with local laws and helping you navigate legalities related to property ownership, investment regulations, and estate planning.

Costa Rica’s Public Health Care System

Costa Rica boasts a world-renowned healthcare system, offering residents access to quality medical care.

Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS): Often referred to simply as the “Caja,” this is Costa Rica’s public healthcare system. Funded through mandatory contributions, Caja offers comprehensive coverage to residents, including:

  • Preventive Care: Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings are readily available.
  • Medical Services: A wide range of medical services are covered, from doctor consultations to specialist care and hospitalization.
  • Prescription Drugs: Many medications are included in the Caja coverage.
Health Care

How the Caja Works:

  • Eligibility: Citizens, permanent residents, and legal dependents can access Caja benefits. There are also voluntary contribution options for some non-residents.
  • Contributions: Mandatory contributions are typically deducted from salaries for employees and employers. Self-employed individuals make direct contributions.
  • Wait Times: Be prepared for potential wait times, especially for non-emergency care.

Private Healthcare

Costa Rica’s private healthcare system offers a valuable alternative or supplement to Caja, particularly for expats who may:

  • Value Shorter Wait Times: Unlike Caja, private hospitals and clinics often have shorter wait times for appointments and procedures. This can be crucial for expats who may not have time to navigate the public system.
  • Seek Modern Facilities: Many private facilities in Costa Rica are known for their state-of-the-art equipment and technology, providing a more comfortable and advanced medical experience.
  • Need Specialized Care: Private healthcare offers a wider range of specialists and services, including those not covered by Caja. This is especially beneficial for expats with pre-existing conditions or who require specific treatments.
  • Prefer English Communication: Some private hospitals and clinics cater specifically to English-speaking patients, making communication with medical professionals easier for expats.

Examples of Well-Regarded Private Hospitals:

For expats considering private healthcare options, Costa Rica boasts several well-regarded private hospitals, including:

  • CIMA Hospital: Located in Escazú, CIMA is known for its comprehensive care and is the only hospital in Central America accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Clínica Bíblica: Situated in San José, Clínica Bíblica is a popular choice for expats seeking high-quality medical care.
  • Hospital La Católica: Located in San José-Guadalupe, Hospital La Católica offers a wide range of specialties and services in a modern setting.

Education System

Costa Rica boasts a comprehensive public education system, covering pre-kindergarten to 11th grade. The REDCUDI initiative provides care for children aged 0 to 6, offering various modalities to suit diverse needs.

Public education in Costa Rica

The MEP, or the Public Education Ministry, provides education from preschool, to then transition into elementary school from 1st to 6th grade, and finally high school from 7th to 11th grade. Legally, every child is entitled to enrollment in a public institution.

Public schools in Costa Rica are funded by taxes paid by citizens and provide free education to all students who enroll, including international students. Education in Costa Rica is a highly valued part of its culture, with the country having a literacy rate of 97% and providing access to education for all citizens. Costa Rica’s education is free for all children from kindergarten to the end of high school, with students receiving free books and supplies. The Ministry of Public Education organizes and maintains the public educational system, while private institutions are governed by their own laws and regulations.

Private Education

Despite the accessibility of public schools, international residents often opt for private education because of several reasons.

  • Private schools typically offer a more rigorous curriculum, including advanced courses in math, science, and foreign languages.
  • Smaller class sizes in private schools facilitate personalized attention and foster interactive learning environments, contrasting with the larger class sizes in public schools.
  • Private schools in Costa Rica tend to offer a broader range of extracurricular activities, from sports teams to music and arts programs, enriching students’ overall educational experience.
  • Another significant advantage of private education is the emphasis on language and cultural diversity, catering to the expatriate community with inclusive curricula that accommodate students from various backgrounds.

Read more about private schools in Costa Rica.

Understanding Public Services and Infrastructure

Transitioning to a new country involves familiarizing yourself with its public services and infrastructure. Here’s a look at what to expect in Costa Rica to help you plan and adjust smoothly:

Utilities:

  • Availability and Reliability: Costa Rica boasts a well-developed utilities network with good coverage throughout the country. Electricity and water are generally reliable, but occasional outages can occur.

  • Connection and Billing: Setting up utilities usually involves contacting the local service provider and presenting your residency identification. Be prepared for deposits or connection fees. Billing cycles and payment methods can vary, so inquire with the provider.

  • Internet Connectivity: Costa Rica offers good internet connectivity in most areas, with fiber optic options available in many towns and cities. However, speeds can vary depending on location and provider. Contact your chosen ISP to initiate service and arrange installation. The process may involve presenting identification and signing a contract.

Transportation:

  • Public Transportation: Costa Rica’s public transportation system, particularly buses, offers a relatively affordable way to get around, especially in urban areas. However, research routes and schedules beforehand, as wait times can vary.

  • Riding Apps: Ridesharing apps like Uber and Uber Eats are becoming increasingly popular in Costa Rica, offering a convenient alternative for getting around. They’re also usually more affordable than in other northern countries.

  • Driving: If you plan on driving, obtaining a Costa Rican driver’s license is recommended. Public transportation won’t always have convenient routes for users. Roads vary in quality, with some being well-maintained and others unpaved or in need of repair. Be cautious of potholes, especially during the rainy season.

Understanding and Adapting to Local Culture

Embracing the local culture is crucial for a fulfilling expatriate experience in Costa Rica. Known for their friendly and laid-back attitude, Costa Ricans, or “Ticos,” place a strong emphasis on community and family. Learning about Costa Rican customs, traditions, and the Spanish language can significantly enhance your integration into the local community. Participating in local events and festivals is a great way to understand the rich cultural tapestry of Costa Rica and forge meaningful connections with your new neighbors.

Sustainable Living and Environmental Conservation

Costa Rica is a global leader in environmental conservation and sustainable living. Adopting eco-friendly practices in your new home not only aligns with the national ethos but also contributes to the preservation of Costa Rica’s stunning natural beauty. Consider incorporating renewable energy sources, waste reduction strategies, and sustainable transportation options into your lifestyle. Supporting local conservation efforts and participating in community sustainability projects can further enhance your connection to Costa Rica’s environmental values.

Building Your Network: Community and Expatriate Groups in Costa Rica

Relocating to a new country can be a daunting experience, but building a strong network can ease the transition.

  • Online Expat Communities: Numerous online forums and social media groups connect expats in Costa Rica. These platforms offer a virtual space to share experiences, ask questions, and find support. Some popular options include InterNations Costa Rica, Expats Living in Costa Rica on Facebook, and specific groups dedicated to your region or hobbies.

  • Expat Meetups and Events: Many towns and cities in Costa Rica host regular meetups and events specifically for expats. These gatherings are a fantastic way to connect with people who share your background and understand the joys and challenges of expat life. Websites and apps like Eventbrite often list expat meetups and events. Look for events happening in your area that cater to expats.

  • Ask Around: If you’re already in Costa Rica, talk to other expats or locals about groups they participate in. This can be a great way to discover hidden gems and connect with people with similar interests.

Joining these groups can offer invaluable support, advice, and friendship, making the move smoother and more enjoyable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bringing your pets to Costa Rica is relatively straightforward, reflecting the country’s welcoming nature. There is no quarantine requirement for pets entering Costa Rica, which eases the process significantly. However, there are a few key requirements you must meet:
  • Vaccinations: Your pet must be up-to-date with their rabies vaccination, administered no less than 30 days before your departure. This is crucial for ensuring the health and safety of your pet and complying with international travel standards.
  • Health Certificate: Obtain an APHIS 7001 International Health Certificate from a licensed veterinarian, endorsed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This certificate confirms that your pet is free from contagious diseases and is fit to travel.
  • Travel Arrangements: Small pets can typically travel in the cabin with you, subject to your airline’s policies, while larger pets may need to be checked in as cargo. Be aware of the potential extra fees for pet transport and consider the season and temperatures, as extreme weather conditions can affect your pet’s ability to fly. For exotic pets like birds, additional documentation may be required.
  • Breed Restrictions: Some breeds may face restrictions or special requirements for flying due to health concerns. Always check with your airline and prepare accordingly.
For those seeking a smoother process or facing complex travel itineraries, hiring a professional pet shipper could offer a hassle-free solution, ensuring your pets arrive safely in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica does not mandate any specific vaccinations for travelers from the U.S., Canada, or Europe, making the move simpler for most. However, if you’re coming from a country where Yellow Fever is endemic, proof of vaccination is required. This preventative measure ensures the health and safety of both travelers and residents.
While not compulsory, certain vaccinations are recommended to safeguard your health, especially if you plan to explore the diverse ecosystems of Costa Rica or travel to other parts of Central and South America. These may include:
  • Tetanus: An updated tetanus shot is advisable, as injuries could occur while exploring Costa Rica’s rugged landscapes.
  • Typhoid and Hepatitis A: Recommended for those who plan to visit rural areas or eat in places where food and water safety might be compromised.
Adhering to these recommendations can enhance your peace of mind, allowing you to fully enjoy the natural beauty and adventure that Costa Rica offers.
Banking in Costa Rica presents a mix of modern conveniences and traditional processes, with patience often being a virtue when dealing with local banking systems which are typically slower or more cumbersome than what you might expect. While depositing money and completing transactions may take longer than what you’re accustomed to, Costa Rica offers several banking options to foreigners:
  • Opening a Bank Account: Non-residents can open a bank account with a valid passport, a current visa, and a reference letter from a local who knows you in a commercial capacity (e.g., your landlord). Requirements vary by bank, so it’s advisable to research or inquire directly.
  • Mortgages and Financing: Foreigners can obtain mortgages, though interest rates and terms may differ from those in your home country. Public banks like Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica are popular choices, as are private banks such as BAC San Jose and ScotiaBank. Some property developers offer owner financing, and foreign mortgages from international lenders are increasingly common, offering alternative financing solutions for real estate purchases in Costa Rica.
Navigating the banking system in Costa Rica can be smoother with a basic understanding of Spanish and familiarity with local banking practices. Consulting with a financial advisor familiar with Costa Rican and expatriate banking issues can also provide valuable guidance.
While Costa Rica is a Spanish-speaking country, the necessity of speaking Spanish varies significantly based on where you choose to live. In tourist-centric regions and expatriate communities, particularly along the Guanacaste beaches, English is widely spoken, and one can comfortably live within an “English bubble.” However, a basic knowledge of Spanish can greatly enhance your experience, from day-to-day interactions to deeper cultural immersion and understanding.
In more rural areas or if you’re seeking a fully integrated experience into Costa Rican culture, Spanish becomes increasingly essential. Learning the language not only facilitates smoother interactions with locals but also signals respect for the country’s culture and customs. Numerous language schools and online resources are available to help expatriates learn Spanish, making the language learning journey accessible to all.

Costa Rica offers a diverse range of living experiences that can cater to various budgets, from luxurious coastal resorts to modest mountain retreats. While Costa Rica is not the cheapest expatriate destination in Latin America, many expatriates find that their overall living costs are significantly lower than in North America. And certainly, the benefits far outweigh the perceived lower costs in countries without stability, universal healthcare, ease of access, and other benefits of moving to Costa Rica.

Living in a luxury home in Costa Rica offers numerous lifestyle benefits, including:
  • Natural Beauty: Costa Rica’s stunning landscapes, from beaches to rainforests, offer a breathtaking backdrop for everyday life.
  • Outdoor Activities: The country’s diverse ecosystems provide endless opportunities for outdoor adventures, including surfing, hiking, bird watching, and yoga retreats.
  • Wellness and Health: The emphasis on wellness, fresh food, and outdoor living contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Many luxury homes come equipped with wellness amenities like fitness centers, spas, and organic gardens.
  • Community and Culture: Living in Costa Rica offers the chance to immerse yourself in a vibrant culture known for its Pura Vida lifestyle, friendly locals, and rich traditions.
  • Privacy and Security: Luxury properties often feature enhanced security measures and privacy, allowing for a tranquil and secure living environment.

Property taxes in Costa Rica are relatively low compared to North America and Europe, making it an attractive aspect of owning luxury real estate here. The general property tax rate is 0.25% of the registered property value annually. Luxury homes may also be subject to the Solidarity Tax for the Strengthening of Housing Programs (commonly known as the “luxury home tax”), which applies to homes above a certain value threshold. This tax is used to fund affordable housing programs in Costa Rica. It’s important to consult with a local real estate attorney or tax advisor to understand the specific tax implications for your luxury property.

Yes, Costa Rica is a popular destination for remote workers and digital nomads, thanks to its stable internet access and scenic work environments. Before moving, check with your employer about any policies related to working internationally. Additionally, ensure you comply with Costa Rican laws regarding work and residency. Remote workers typically enter on a tourist visa and then apply for temporary residency or a specific visa category that suits their long-term needs. The Costa Rican government has been considering special visas for remote workers, so stay updated on any new regulations that may facilitate remote work.

Moving to Costa Rica is an exciting venture that promises a blend of luxury, adventure, and tranquility. By understanding the immigration process, finding the right home, and preparing thoroughly, you can ensure a seamless transition to your new life. LX and our local partners in the LX Network can assist you every step of the way, from selecting the perfect property to settling into the vibrant Costa Rican community.
For more information on making Costa Rica your home, contact your LX Specialist or explore our blog for insights into luxury living in this tropical paradise. Welcome to Costa Rica – your new beginning awaits.

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