COSTA RICA UP CLOSE
Most Costa Rican visitors fall in love with this beautiful country and its very friendly people and start to dream about living in Costa Rica. From exotic beaches and verdant mountains where the climate is always pleasant, to tropical rain forests with amazing flora and fauna, Costa Rica enchants everyone.
Costa Rica has much to offer. Whether you come as a visitor or an investor, or are thinking about living in Costa Rica, there is something attractive here for you.
As one of the oldest democracies in the Americas (and having abolished its army over 50 years ago), Costa Rica has instead chosen to spend its money on education, health services and now infrastructure. All this makes living in Costa Rica a great idea. Having established political and social stability, Costa Rica is a peaceful and prosperous nation, safe for the foreigners as well locals.
The People – The expression “Pura Vida,” literally translated as “Pure Life,” best describes the Costa Rican way of life. Ticos, as the locals commonly call themselves, are their country’s greatest asset and are renowned for their friendliness. They are warm hearted, gracious, educated, entrepreneurial and ready to accept you into their country, their lives, and their homes. In addition, foreigners are usually pleasantly surprised to discover how many of their neighbors are also from foreign soil. In Costa Rica the pace of life is a reflection of strong traditional family values serving as the foundation of a society where respect for oneself and tolerance for others are common traits. Friendliness and a commitment to hospitality serve as two large factors in the growing number of returning visitors to Costa Rica year after year.
The Language – The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish, but a great many Costa Ricans speak English. Additionally, as Costa Rica continues to attract visitors from the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, other languages such as French, German, Italian, Chinese and Dutch are becoming more and more prevalent.
The Currency – The national currency of Costa Rica is the Colon. U.S. dollars can be easily exchanged throughout the country at any bank, national or private, and also at most hotels and money exchange companies. In addition, nearly all hotels plus some restaurants, gas stations and shops will accept U.S. dollars as payment.
Banking – The banking system in Costa Rica is very modern and offers all local and international services. This includes issuing credit and debit cards, loans and both personalized and computerized banking. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s) are available throughout the country and will accept PLUS cards as well as local ATM cards. Visa credit card advances are easily obtained at most local banks.
Cost of Living – The cost of living is probably one of the most important issues concerning prospective full-time residents. Although the cost of living here is less than that of the United States, the difference is not dramatic. Housekeeping and gardening help is very affordable, as are other conveniences, which are often considered a luxury. On average, a monthly income of $1,500 to $2,500, with established accommodations will provide for quite a comfortable lifestyle.(Cost of Living)
Taxes – Out-of-country income is not taxed in Costa Rica, and if you are employed in this country, income tax is minimal. Basic property taxes are 0.25% of the property stated value, which is nominal by North American standards.
Education – Costa Rica provides free education for its residents and boasts the highest literacy rate in Central America, rivaling even that of many larger and much wealthier industrialized nations. The right to primary education for both sexes was established in 1869 and has been declared obligatory. In addition to free public education, there are several high quality private institutions extending from the primary level up through the university. Although most of these institutions are located in and around San José, the rapid development of the Guanacaste Gold Coast area has begun to attract some of the private, higher quality schools to the region, such as the Country Day School (English Language and U.S. Accredited).
Immigrations – Tourist visas are good for 90 days and one can renew these visas easily at the Liberia airport. Permanent residency takes approximately a year to obtain.
Employment - Employment opportunities are limited, as Costa Rica gives job priority to its residents and requires work visas for any foreign visitors who seek employment in this country.
Religion – Perhaps as much as 90% of the Costa Rica population practices Catholicism, the country’s official religion. Other religious beliefs exist freely although and are protected by the Constitution as well.
Government - Costa Rica is a free and independent republic and its people have enjoyed a peaceful, democratic way of life since 1889. The military as a division of the Costa Rican government was abolished in 1948 and is now prohibited by the Costa Rican Constitution. The current leadership consists of three branches of government including the President, elected by popular vote for a period of four-years and exercising executive powers; the Congress, a single chambered legislature, whose members are also elected by popular vote for a four-year term; and the Supreme Court, acting as the judicial body of the nation. The Constitution guarantees and protects its people’s right to life, freedom and basic civil liberties. Perpetual Neutrality was proclaimed in Costa Rica in 1983.
Crime – The biggest crime facing Costa Ricans is petty theft. Violent crime is nearly non-existent and virtually all crimes committed are in and around the larger cities. (Safety)
Communications – Costa Rica’s communication network is among the very best in Central American. Postal, facsimile, telephone and cell phone services, as well as electronic mail (Internet), are readily available anywhere in the country.
Environment – Costa Rica is perhaps the most biologically diverse of the Central American countries, contributing to almost 5% of the world’s total biodiversity including: 10,000 plant species (which include 1,200 orchid species, 27% of which are native to the country), 1,239 butterflies, 848 birds (7 of which are native to the country), 205 mammals (105 of which are bat species), 216 reptiles, 160 amphibians, and 1,630 fish species. Natural Resources include agricultural products (including bananas, coffee, maize, oranges, rice, sugar cane, and cocoa), cattle, forests, biodiversity, bauxite, gold, iron ore, silver, sulfur.
- Total Forest Area – 1.968 million hectares (2000), 39% of total land area.
- Deforestation rate – 7% (between 1990-2000)
- Protected Areas – close to 1.26 million hectares of Costa Rica is protected under their national conservation system, including 10 biological reserves, 22 national parks, 34 wildlife refuges, and 12 forest reserves.
- Conventions/agreements – Party to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), Kyoto Protocol, Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), Ramsar Convention, World Heritage Convention