How To Move To Costa Rica - Legal Requirements, Costs of Living

Many people dream about a country full of beautiful beaches, exotic rainforests and laid-back lifestyle. What you need to know before moving to Costa Rica?

Basic Information

Costa Rica is a rather small country with around 50 thousand square kilometers and a population of 5 million people. Situated in Central America, the country is bordered by Nicaragua and Panama. It’s capital is San José. The country speaks Spanish and English.

Official Name: Republic Of Costa Rica

Form Of Government: Democratic Republic

Capital: San José

Population: 4,987,142

Official Languages: Spanish, English

Currency: Costa Rican Colon

Area: 51,100 Square Kilometers

5 reasons to move to Costa Rica

1. Beautiful nature and warm climate

One has to take into consideration the exotic nature of the country as one of the advantages for moving there. Not only can you relax on beautiful sandy beaches by the Pacific Ocean or Carribean Sea and enjoy surfing, diving and snorkeling, but also climb mountains and take a bath in hot springs by the volcano. There are kilometers of jungles with unique wildlife to be amazed by and explore. The Osa Peninsula is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. You may be surprised to learn that your closest neighbor is a real monkey. Sometimes there is even traffic in the street, because some sloths are crossing the road. One will have to learn how to live side by side with nature.

2. Affordable Healthcare

A well-developed and affordable healthcare has created a trend of medical tourism. Many people come to the country to join the national healthcare program, as the citizens of Costa Rica receive it for free. However, even a private offer can be significantly cheaper compared to the USA, as one can close within $50 per month.

3. Well-established expat community

If you are afraid of the sole thought of suddenly giving everything up and moving to an unknown place, fear not, as you will be welcomed by a well-organized expat community. They make the integration much easier, and you may find that you have a lot in common with them. After all, they also decided to move there from their home countries. These groups often develop local areas in a very positive way, as they organize various activities like yoga classes, but also set up schools for children, restaurants and cafes.

4. You can live healthier

Most of the citrus or other fancy fruits and vegetables are not considered an exotic imported luxury, because they actually grow there. You can enjoy the fact that you have an opportunity to avoid eating processed food excessively and benefit from the gifts of nature. People usually also spend more time outside and apart from the biggest cities one can truly take a deep breath of fresh air. In addition, the newcomers often report to lose weight because they are motivated to take part in more physical activities. For example, a thing like surfing doesn’t have to be a one-time tourist attraction, but can become an actual hobby for you.

5. Laid-back lifestyle

There is this local phrase “pura vida”, which is the essence of the mindset of people in Costa Rica. One has to remember to be grateful for what we have. Let things go and simply relax, while appreciating all of the good in the world around you.

How to move to Costa Rica?

You can either get a permanent or temporary resident status, apply for a regular tourist visa or if you have a working permit or come to a country as a volunteer or student. Most likely it will be the easiest to visit the country first with a tourist visa to make sure that you want to move there for good. Then, it will be best to find a job both to be secured financially after you come to the country, but your employer can help you with part of the legal requirements.

Tourist Visa

There are no strict requirements for getting a tourist visa and it will last you 90 days. However, it is also not a problem to apply for it soon after it expires, therefore many people leave the country for a weekend and come back to get another 90 days of stay.

It’s important to remember that as a tourist you can’t legally get a job in the country.

Work Permit

Once in a while there is an official list of experts in demand published by the government. Because a foreigner can get a job only if the employer proves that there was no other suitable person in the country. Check what jobs currently have priority and are in demand and apply for them if you are qualified. Work permit allows you to stay in the country as long as you have this job.

Student visa

If you are interested in studying on Costa Rica you can apply for an educational program there.

Costa Rica Currency

Colon is the official currency of Costa Rica, however in many places (especially tourist areas) american dollars are widely accepted. Here you can read more about Costa Rica Currency.

Costs of living

Here are the average basic expenses you will face in Costa Rica:

Two-bedroom apartment monthly rent$700
Electricity$50
Water$10
Internet$30
Phone$15
Cable$60
Healthcare$50
Maintaining a car$130
Monthly food$400
Clothing$50
Entertainment (dining out, visiting a pub, seeing a movie few times in a month)$100

Banking in Costa Rica

When you become a permanent resident you will probably come to a point where you will need a local bank account. That’s not that easy for foreigners, as it requires dealing with lots of paperwork. There are both state-owned and private banks to choose from. The most popular banks in Costa Rica are:

  • Banco de Costa Rica (BCR)
  • Banco Nacional de Costa Rica
  • Bancrédito
  • Scotiabank
  • BAC San José
  • Citibank

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