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Things You Should Know Before Moving to Costa Rica

Tanaya Navalkar Jan 2, 2019
Costa Rica is a great place to live, but relocating to another country needs consideration of various aspects. You may be having several questions and everything may be confusing. Here are the most important things to consider before moving to Costa Rica.

Pura Vida

"Pura Vida" is the national saying that is commonly heard in Costa Rica. It means "pure life", a happy expression that is often used in lieu of greeting 'hello' or 'goodbye', or even if someone asks how you are doing.
Costa Rica is home to some of the world's most stunning beaches. It is Latin America's one of the most tranquil and politically stable nations. It is loved for its full-of-life culture, beautiful environment, and a relaxed approach to life. However, moving to another country all together involves a million things than just packing your bags.
You have to plan everything in advance so that you don't have to face any difficulties upon reaching there. Costa Rica is a safe country to live in. There might be some good reasons to move to Costa Rica, but there are some things that you should know and consider before making the move.
Make sure your timing is right when you take this huge step. It should not be a hasty decision, or a decision taken in depression or while going through emotional turmoil. Let us check out what else you will need to keep in mind before you start packing your bags.

Things to Consider When Moving to Costa Rica

Mindset and Social Habits

People of Costa Rica are said to be friendly and relaxed. Ticos are basically sociable and tolerant, but take time to cultivate good friendships. Therefore, you will need a lot of patience in getting to know people around. Try interacting more with the local people. If you know Spanish, then use it!
They will be more than willing to help you and make you feel comfortable once they get to know you. Make sure you don't compare your country and culture with that of Costa Rica. Go with this mindset, and your tenure will be an adventurous one!

Ideologies and Religion

Costa Rica has a rich culture and background in democracy and socialism. The Constitution establishes the Roman Catholic faith as the state religion, but also guarantees the freedom of worship and religion.

Establishing Residency

Establishing residency in Costa Rica has become expensive, especially in the last five years. However, it is cheaper than many parts of North America, but costlier than other parts of Latin America. The country grants you a 90-day visa, and all you will have to do is search for a decent place.
After the visa limit is over, you will have to leave the country for a few days or few hours and come back again with a new visa. But make sure you don't make it a habit! You wouldn't want to be tagged as a 'come-and-goer' by officials! Take your time before deciding upon a place, and make sure it is where you would want to live for the next few years.


Immigration laws have many chances for residency in Costa Rica. The residential permits are given through family relations, business investments, retirement, or temporary employment. You get permanent residency if you are citizen of other Central American country or Spain and lived in Costa Rica for 5 years, having a child in Costa Rica, or marrying a Tica!
The immigration process demands a lot of paperwork like reasonable fees, essential forms, authentication of documents, setting appointments, translations, and other procedures disguised in old-fashioned bureaucracy that some may consider exhausting and overwhelming.
The non-residents require sponsorship from a domestic firm for work permits, and may be subjected to some restrictions. You may have the opportunity to start your own business and enjoy the income even though you might not be allowed to get on a company's payroll.

Cost of Living

Costa Rica is a popular destination because of its affordable cost of living. It is the most important and big factor when you think of moving to another land. The earnings may seem a bit modest as compared to the Western counterparts, but other prices are way below than what you might be used to.
Though, it might not be cheap always! The high-end goods and vehicles can be really pricey. If you are a gadget-freak person, then make sure to get your precious gadgets along that you might need there.
Working and living in Costa Rica might be 'Pure Vida' for some expats because they get paid well as compared to their colleagues back home. Don't be surprised to see some savings from your salary at the end of every month, which you hardly saw in your homeland.


In case you didn't know, Costa Rica has a literacy rate of about 97.8%, being one of the highest in Latin America. The government grants free education to children from grades 1st to 11th, and 12th if pursuing a vocational course.
Therefore, every citizen of the country is obligated to receive education. The tuition rates may vary depending upon the institution. The education at University of Costa Rica is either free or very reasonable for those who are able to secure an admission there.


Those of you moving to Costa Rica don't need to worry about your health as you may be in capable hands during your stay there. The healthcare system here is on par with other countries. The citizens or any legal residents are covered by the national healthcare and Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).
You will have access to all the major hospitals in the country. Other small hospitals and pharmacies are well-equipped and are within the reach. They have a number of medical insurance policies at reasonable prices.


There are many tax benefits that you can enjoy after moving to Costa Rica. Property taxes are reasonable as compared to other countries, and investors are not required to pay taxes on real estate. Taxes on business are minimal, and you will also enjoy tax-free bank accounts.


The fruits and vegetables are abundant due to the fertile soil and suitable climatic conditions. The typical Costa Rican food is good and simple. Caribbean and South American restaurants are popular dinning options, and serve some great food. Groceries and household goods are easily available in a number of stores, and Walmart is well-known for the same.


Hopping onto a bus and commuting is one of the best ways to explore and get to know the country. It is modern and inexpensive. The inter-province train system connects the main parts of the metropolitan area, and will probably expand in the coming years. Taxis are a good option for reaching short distances.
Renting a car would really help as it offers flexibility and endless opportunities to explore. Make sure to be careful while driving at night as the roads are dark and you might discover people biking and walking right in the middle.


The broadband and Internet connections are affordable, and offer great packages for a good-speed Internet. There is a good flexibility where wireless services are concerned.

Tips for moving to Costa Rica

◆ Learn Spanish. The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish, and the Ticos will welcome you warmly if you interact with them in their language.

◆ Use relocation services and do extensive research to find the right home, schools, universities, and other places for your children. These services help you in culture and lifestyle training.
◆ If you have a pet, find out what all documents and paperwork would be required. Get in touch with your pet's vet and have it vaccinated for traveling abroad, because chances are that it may go into quarantine.

◆ Carry all your documents safely to avoid further complications.

◆ Sell most of your household goods before moving that can be bought there.
◆ If you wish to settle there after retirement, then start your own business, especially if you are a retiree, and also because permanent residency may take a while.

◆ Don't hurry to buy a house or start a business, and analyze everything. Rent a house before you buy one. Everything will fall into place and you will get a hang of it after spending time.
Take into consideration all of these factors, and you will surely enjoy and lead a more peaceful life. Make plans such that they will yield less amount of stress and risk, and keep everything flexible and fun. Pura Vida!