Costa Rica: A guide for expats

Costa Rica, or ‘Rich Coast’ in Spanish, is a culturally diverse country in Central America bordered by Nicaragua and Panama. With its sandy beaches, lush tropical rainforests, sweeping coastline, and rocky peninsulas, Costa Rica has an unsurpassed scenic beauty that features a rich ecology of plants, animals, and birds, as well as one of the world’s most outstanding nature reserve and national park systems. Offering a healthier and less stressful way of life than many Americans have become used to, it is little wonder that so many expats choose to make the move to Costa Rica.

In the region of 50,000 American expats have moved to make Costa Rica their home, creating a wide social network that is ready to welcome newcomers to the country. Those currently residing in this beautiful land have reported that their cost of living has been reduced by up to half, with lower taxes, and inexpensive fresh and tasty local produce being readily available. Costa Rica boasts one of the best healthcare systems in Latin America, and has a stable government and a thriving economy. Additionally, expats in Costa Rica will find themselves subject to the same rights to property ownership as Costa Ricans, creating ideal circumstances for those who may be choosing to live abroad for the first time.

Choosing the Costa Rican lifestyle

Costa Rica is home to a series of microclimates: cool and temperate in the mountains, warm and lush in the rainforests, and hot and dry by the sea. With such a variation in scenery and climate, Costa Rica really spoils the expats that settle there.

San José, the country’s capital, is located in the Central Valley. Surrounded by tall mountains, the city has a stable climate due to its altitude. It’s also home to a well-established expat community, offering a vibrant setting for social clubs, theater groups, games nights and more. Being centrally located San José is a great base from which to explore the surrounding areas; fantastic for first-time buyers in Costa Rica.

If city living isn’t your preference, the Gold Coast and Central Pacific have a blend of coastal scenery, a warm climate and stunning natural attractions, that combined have drawn numerous expats over the years. The Volcanic region of Arenal is ideal for those looking to Costa Rica for an escape, while the Southern Zone allows expats to immerse themselves in the traditions of the country.

With so many American expats making Costa Rica their new home there is a fantastic sense of community, with plenty of opportunity for newcomers to enjoy an active social life. For those that wish to relax and immerse themselves in local living, Costa Rica has a rich culture of music and theater, which can be enjoyed amongst friends. The country is also home to a number of restaurants, bars, cafes, and casinos, all ideal venues to celebrate a new lifestyle with friends.

Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is a fantastic destination for water sports and activities, including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, sailing, surfing, water skiing, and boating. Expats relocating to this beautiful paradise will find ample opportunities for experiencing the great outdoors; bird watching, golf, horse riding, walking, cycling, and hiking are all popular pastimes amongst the locals and expats alike.

Affordable properties are frequently available in Costa Rica, which is great news for those looking to enjoy the rich and fulfilling lifestyle that the country can offer. Rental and holiday properties are also readily available – ideal for those who would prefer to ‘try before they buy’. Be warned; many who come for just a short visit find that they never wish to leave.

Travel in and around Costa Rica

Costa Rica is served by a relatively reliable public transport system including buses, trams, taxis and boats, which can all be accessed relatively cheaply and frequently. Domestic air travel originates and terminates at the airport in San Jose, while international airlines such as Spirit Airlines provide safe and affordable air travel for those who may be wishing to visit expats in their beautiful new home. Costa Rica is located just two and half hours from Miami by air: paradise has never been so close.

This post has been written by Catherine Lees, a passionate traveler who is lucky enough to be a regular jetsetter. To learn more about her adventures please visit:

You may also like...