Retiring in Costa Rica: A Haven for US Expats

Costa Rica has become a sought-after destination for US expats, especially retirees. With its year-round tropical climate, modern amenities, and affordable cost of living, it’s not hard to see why.

In this article, we’ll examine why Costa Rica is an ideal location for US expats living in Costa Rica, particularly those ready to enjoy the “Pura Vida” lifestyle.


Ideal Location and Climate

Located between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica has over 5 million people with easy access to the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The Central Valley, where many expats choose to reside, boasts year-round spring-like temperatures that average around 74ºF (23ºC). Those who prefer beach living can find many options on the Central Pacific coast (like Jacó and Quepos/Manuel Antonio) or in the Guanacaste province (such as Tamarindo and Playa del Coco).


High Standard of Living

According to the US Department of State, Costa Rica has Central America’s highest standard of living. The economy caters to tourists and travelers, which means you’ll find top-notch amenities like theaters, galleries, fine dining, healthcare, and modern telecommunications. Costa Rica’s stable and peaceful environment, growing economy, and easy residency program are also major draws for expats.


Affordable Cost of Living

One of the most significant advantages of retiring in Costa Rica is its comparatively lower cost of living. For instance, the cost of living in the Central Valley is much lower than in many US cities. Retirees can also take advantage of Costa Rica’s affordable medical care, which is on par with many developed countries.


Growing Expat Community

With more than 120,000 US expats living in Costa Rica, there is a growing community of like-minded individuals to connect with. Many retirees choose to live in the Central Valley, within a few hours of the capital city of San José and its international airport, shopping, and medical facilities.


Wonderful Nature and Lush Environment

Beyond its modern amenities and economic opportunities, Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty. With lush rainforests, picturesque valleys, and mountains, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, birdwatching, and surfing. Costa Rica has a rich and diverse culture reflected in its food, art, and festivals.



Retiring in Costa Rica is an excellent choice for US expats seeking a high standard of living, affordable cost, and a warm tropical climate. With its stable and peaceful environment, growing economy, and welcoming expat community, it’s easy to see why Costa Rica is becoming an increasingly popular destination for retirees.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions

Is it expensive to retire in Costa Rica?

While Costa Rica’s cost of living is generally lower than many US cities, it’s still important to budget accordingly. Retirees should factor in expenses like housing, transportation, healthcare, and leisure activities.

Can US citizens buy property in Costa Rica?

Yes, US citizens can purchase and own property in Costa Rica. However, working with a reputable real estate agent and lawyer is essential to ensure a smooth transaction.

What are the residency requirements for retiring in Costa Rica?

The residency process in Costa Rica is relatively easy. Retirees can apply for a pensionado visa, which requires proof of a monthly pension income of at least $1,000 USD.

How is the healthcare system in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has a highly-regarded healthcare system that’s accessible and affordable for both locals and expats. Many hospitals and clinics offer services in English, and retirees can enroll in the country’s public healthcare system for a low monthly fee.

Are there English-speaking communities in Costa Rica?

There are many English-speaking expat communities throughout Costa Rica, particularly in the Central Valley and coastal areas.

What is the weather like in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica enjoys a tropical climate with year-round warmth and sunshine. Temperatures vary depending on location, but the Central Valley typically has mild, spring-like temperatures.

What is the cost of living in Costa Rica compared to the US?

The cost of living in Costa Rica is generally lower than in many US cities. Housing, transportation, and healthcare are often more affordable, while food and leisure activities can be comparable to US prices.

Can US retirees work or start a business in Costa Rica?

Retirees can work or start a business in Costa Rica but must obtain the appropriate permits and visas. The process can be complex, so it’s essential to work with a lawyer or immigration specialist.


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  • James Wallace
    Posted February 26, 2018 10:54 am 0Likes

    What is the cost of yout services for 2 adults and what does it cover. We do not speak spanish is that a problem?

    • admin
      Posted February 26, 2018 11:16 am 0Likes

      Hi James! The cost depends on the residence category, and it includes professionally handling your immigration application. We are familiar with the intricacies of the application process, the supporting documents required by law, and we will answer on your behalf any concerns on the part of consular and immigration officials reviewing your application.

      It does not include certain expenses (like certifications, powers of attorney, translations), or getting required documents from your home country (but we can help you with that).

      Not speaking Spanish is not a problem, although if you plan on becoming a resident of Costa Rica it is highly recommended to learn some Spanish to enrich your experience!

  • tony
    Posted May 24, 2023 8:07 am 0Likes

    How much does a small home cost in Costa Rica? 2 or 3 bedrooms 1 or 2 bathrooms? What is the price range? Which area is considered very safe for retirees?

    • Glenn Tellier
      Posted May 25, 2023 5:31 pm 0Likes

      Anywhere from $50,000 and up into the millions, depending where you choose to live. Most beaches are higher in price.

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