Paul Reimer’s story is typical when speaking to expats who now call Costa Rica home. Like so many others, the optometrist from northeastern Kansas fell in love with Costa Rica’s pristine natural beauty and opted to leave the rat race for sustainable living and a taste of “pura vida.”
“I started coming down here several years ago with my wife and two sons and found it to be so peaceful and relaxing,” says Reimer, who has spent the past year living on the country’s southwest pacific coast. “We kept coming back, and it planted a seed, so we started looking at the possibility of returning here to live.”
After exploring different parts of the country, Reimer and family descended upon one of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets south of Dominical and the Pacific Beaches, where the mountains meet the Pacific Ocean. He purchased some land and eventually built a house within an environment that he describes as “fascinating and alive.”
“The jungle is filled with exotic birds and animals, while the ocean is populated by whales and dolphins,” he says. “When you frame all of that with a beautiful landscape of lush green and unpopulated beaches, it struck me that there are not many places like this left on earth, and I wanted a piece of it for myself.”
If lush, beautiful landscapes and neighbors in every tree aren’t enough to convince you to transplant your roots, here are 10 compelling reasons to follow your dreams to Costa Rica.
1. ‘Pura Vida,’ Part 1
Rise with the sun and go to bed early, using nature as your alarm clock. The Costa Rican life cycle is geared towards the rhythms of the sun, with hiking, surfing, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, waterfalls, and long stretches of beaches all contributing to full days, at a much slower pace.
2. ‘Pura Vida,’ Part 2
Costa Rica is a planter’s paradise, where sustainable living includes organic markets, fresh seafood, and more exotic fruits than most people have ever heard of.
3. Warm Welcome
In a country that has opted out of military spending in lieu of health and education, Costa Ricans are friendly, welcoming, and nonjudgmental. Rather than being seen as migrant pests from the north, foreigners can blend right in to Costa Rican life without feeling imposing.
4. Streamlined Residency
The path to residency for foreign property owners is relatively easy and straightforward. Legal residency can be obtained in just a few years, with temporary residency status afforded to those who apply. You can also opt to live in Costa Rica as a nonresident, which allows you to remain in the country for up to 90 days at a time.
5. Secure Property Ownership
As opposed to some countries that require foreign-owned properties to be held in trust, Costa Rica allows foreigners to purchase land legally in their own name, which greatly facilitates the process of buying and selling. Furthermore, Costa Rica imposes no capital gains tax on sold property. Holding costs for land in Costa Rica are also relatively low, particularly in comparison to holding costs of coastal property in the United States.
6. Comfort and Safety
Violent crime in Costa Rica is relatively low, particularly against foreigners. While petty theft exists, as it does anywhere else in the world, foreign residents can indulge in Costa Rican life within a relatively safe and comfortable environment.
7. Exceptional Healthcare
Costa Rica is blessed with one of the best healthcare systems in Latin America, with modern hospitals, state-of-the-art equipment, and professionally-trained staff. Expats can access the country’s government-run universal healthcare system, known as the Caja, by paying a very reasonable monthly fee. Alternatively, residents can use the pay-as-you-go private healthcare system, with costs being approximately one-third to one-fifth of similar services in the United States.
8. Efficient Banking
Costa Rica has very strict laws aimed at preventing money laundering. While this can result in some red tape initially in terms of establishing banking operations, the country runs a very efficient and diligent system that includes the presence of U.S. banks. While the country has its own currency, called the Colon, the U.S. dollar is accepted throughout the country.
9. Close to Home, Part 1
Costa Rica is situated in the Central Time Zone, which helps reduce jet lag for North American travelers. Additionally, with easy connections to all major cities in the United States and Canada, foreign residents are never far from the business, family, and friends that they’ve left behind.
10. Close to Home, Part 2
While the pura vida of Costa Rica’s sustainable living feels like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of North American society, the country offers a lifeline to mall junkies within a few hours driving distance. The capital city of San Jose is home to an abundance of modern malls featuring U.S. retailers, designer goods, upscale restaurants, museums, and plenty of entertainment.