Immigration. Travel. Living.

The golden year in Costa Rica

Sunny Beach

The cost of living in Costa Rica is affordable, and retiring there wouldn’t be a bad option.

Are you considering moving to Costa Rica or retiring there? Just before you pack your bags, there are some important facts that you need to know. Here’s the complete guide on how to retire and spend your golden years in this country.

Moving to Costa Rica

Before selecting Costa Rica as your preferred country for retirement, you must spend some time in the country. This will allow you to know the people, culture, and most importantly, the weather and climate.

This is a good strategy, especially if you have decided if it is the best place for you to retire. Although most residents speak several languages, their main language is Spanish. Connecting with your neighbors, indigenes and foreigners gives you a great chance in learning the language.

Renting a property is considered a good investment decision compared to buying a property outrightly. You can rent a property for a period of 6 months to 1 year, after then, you can decide to buy a property or move to another town.

If you decide to purchase a property, then you should meet with many real estate agents. This provides you with the option of seeing different listings. Before that, you must have a budget and an idea of the kind of property you want to purchase.

The beautiful beaches, islands, and lifestyle are quite tempting. The quiet rural areas, lush valleys & mountains, caribbean beaches, and modern cities are a wonder to watch. Costa Rica now competes with many other countries that are vying for the interest of retirees who are considering living overseas.

Requirements for Retirement

aerial view of forest near body of water

If you have decided that this is the place where you want to spend the remaining years of your life, you will need to make your residency official. The government grouped official temporary Costa Rican residency into three categories, namely:

  • Pension Base Retirement Residency.
  • Income-Based Residency.
  • Large Investor Residency.

Pension Base Retirement Residency (The Pensionado)

The government grants temporary residency to foreigners who can produce evidence of lifetime pension from social security or any other guaranteed retirement income. You should have a guaranteed income of at least $1000 from retirement or pension funds.

You can deposit your funds into the Costa Rican finance system, after which it will be converted into the country’s Colón for you to use.

Income-Based Residency (The Rentista)

The Rentista is another residency visa option for all who want to relocate to the country. You can apply for residency under this category if you don’t have a fixed income.

The government through the Rentista program grants temporary residence visas to foreign nationals who have a stable, guaranteed, or constant monthly income. This program requires you to produce bank statements that show you had an income of at least $2,500 monthly in the past two years.

Alternatively, you deposit $60,000 in any Costa Rican bank (you’ll have to show proof of your deposit).

Large Investor Residency (Inversionista Program)

Costa Rica presents an inversionista visa – which requires a minimum investment of $200,000 in any Costa Rican business. This program was created by the Costa Rican government to encourage foreign nationals to start business ventures in the country.

The funds are expected to go into an approved and registered Costa Rican property or business – which could be a real estate company. If you are investing in an existing business, you must produce a profit-and-loss statement. Also, this program forbids you from being an employee in the company.

All the three programs mentioned above require a $250 application fee. The miscellaneous fee of $259 brings the total cost of the application to $509. Each program requires a 2-year renewal which costs $359 per time. The renewal costs remain unchanged, they are just the same as the initial ones.

After staying three years as a resident, you can apply for permanent residency. The permanent residency gives you the same rights and benefits as any Costa Rican except for franchise (right to vote).

What About The Retirement Benefits?

The government offers retirement benefits using the Costa Rican Social Insurance Fund. Workers are required to contribute to this fund by the virtue of their occupations. Also, they must contribute for at least 25 years. Unfortunately, U.S citizens are ineligible for the program.

How much does it cost to retire in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is one of the most expensive places to live in Central America. Nevertheless, it is a top destination for foreigners – especially people from the United States.

The cost of living depends largely on your lifestyle. Many foreign nationals can live comfortably with a budget of between $1500 to $3000 per month. Couples can also live well on a budget of around $2000/month.

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