Excerpted from Living Abroad in Costa Rica
Why do people move to Costa Rica?
A new life
More and more North Americans are looking for a place to start
a new life—whether it's retirement, career change, or plying
one's current profession in a new market. Many fantasize about a
place where life is cheaper, the pace more humane, and the government
less prone to declare war. Parents of young children may long for
an environment where kids can be immersed in another language and
culture, one that emphasizes basic human values over relentless
accomplishment and acquisition.
Political and economic stability
Costa Rica has one of the most stable democratic governments in
all of Latin America, and an economy that has long attracted foreign
investors. Multinational corporations with branches in Costa Rica
include Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, Monsanto,
and Pfizer. Big and small companies come to Costa Rica because of
the solid telecommunications network, a very educated workforce,
and a high standard of living.
It's easy for a foreigner to start a business here—you can
do it even if you only have a tourist visa. Many expats work successfully
in the burgeoning tourist sector, starting restaurants, hotels,
and tour companies. Many say that although there are of course regulations
to learn about and follow, in general there exist fewer constraints
on businesses here than in their home countries.
Retirees need their pensions to go further
For those approaching retirement age (or already there), places
like Costa Rica are looking better and better. The number of U.S.
citizens over 65 continues to grow, while the
availability of public services has already declined and nursing
homes have reduced the number of Medicaid admissions. In 2003—even
before the most recent economic meltdown—79% of U.S. citizens retiring
had total assets of less than $45,000 and yearly incomes—including
pension and social security—of less than $15,000. That's
not much money to live on, at least in the United States. But $15,000
a year goes much further in a place like Costa Rica.
Also see: Can I live on $20,000 a year in Costa Rica?
walked for hours, then found this waterfall 200 yards
from where we’d parked (Central Pacific coast)
I was called here
I've spoken with a surprising
number of foreign residents who talk of being "called" here. It comes in different language
depending on the slant of the speaker, but I've heard "I came
here in trust," "I followed my heart/gut/dreams,"
and "God/Spirit/the Turtles told me to come." These people
aren’t crazy—in fact they’re average North Americans,
which is to say logical, restless, and driven. It's just that they've
chosen to pay attention to the signals we all get but usually ignore--the
messages to slow down, to open up, and to get yourself to a place
where life slows down enough to let you jump on board.
The sanity of crazy decisions
The bottom line is, if a voice is telling you to come to Costa
Rica, why not listen? However crazily you come to it, it may be
the sanest choice you ever make.