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What Makes Costa Rica a Great Place to Retire?

Have you ever thought about retiring in Costa Rica? The good news is that Costa Rica is a fantastic place to retire for numerous reasons. Firstly, its stunning natural beauty offers a diverse landscape of lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and majestic mountains, providing retirees with an exceptional quality of life.

The country’s stable political environment and strong commitment to environmental sustainability ensure a safe and secure retirement destination. Costa Rica’s affordable healthcare system, which is on par with international standards, is another major draw for retirees seeking excellent medical services.

Additionally, the friendly and welcoming local culture, along with a thriving expat community, fosters a sense of belonging and social engagement, making retirement in Costa Rica an enriching and fulfilling experience.

It is no surprise that International Living Magazine has ranked Costa Rica as the best retirement destination in the world. Approximately 10% of Costa Rica’s population is foreigners.  More than 120,000 US expatriates — many of which are retirees — would agree wholeheartedly!

Can I Collect Social Security and Live in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can. Your monthly payment of the U.S. Social Security (including disability compensation, but not SSI) can be deposited in your bank account in the U.S., allowing you to withdraw from it from Costa Rica by means of an ATM or a credit or debit card.

Although it is possible to have your check mailed to your address in Costa Rica, a much safer and faster way to receive your benefits is by direct deposit of your payment to a financial institution in Costa Rica. The American Embassy in Costa Rica is trained to answer the frequently-asked questions of American citizens living abroad. You can get in touch with them here.

For eligible Canadians, the government of Canada can also direct deposit the proceeds of your Canadian Pension Plan to a Costa Rican bank. Little is needed to start the process. However, you will need a Costa Rican bank account and provide the local bank with your Canadian account number, ID number and completed request forms.

You may also claim dual residency with Canada and Costa Rica to reap some favorable tax benefits.

A Canadian accountant will be best able to provide the details.

Does Costa Rica Tax Retirement Income?

No. You are not required to pay income tax to Costa Rica on your Social Security payment or any other income you earn outside the country. However, in most cases, taxes must still be paid to the United States government on any earned income even though you are not living in that country. Speak with your tax professional to get more details.

How Much Money Do I Need to Retire in Costa Rica?

The answer largely factors on the area you decide to call home and what size property you want to live in and how close to the beach you want to live. Costa Rica is one of the more expensive countries in Central America. However, US citizens, Canadians and Europeans find overall expenses less here than in their countries of origin. A condo on or near the beach in Guanacaste can rent for $1,200 to $3,000 per month while houses in the same area may run $2,000 to $4,000.

Many expat couples live very comfortably on or near the beach on $1,000 to $2,000 a month after rents. Although the cost of living is higher near the beach or in a gated community, these areas are also where the majority of expats live. This type of community gives you the benefit of friends, a support system, and amenities that make life easier.

You can find lower rents far from the beach in small, rural communities. However, you may find yourself feeling isolated or missing the infrastructure and conveniences that make living here long-term possible.

How Can I Retire in Costa Rica Legally?

Visitors from most countries are legally allowed to stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days with just their stamped passport. As a tourist, you can open a bank account and purchase property. If you want to extend your stay, the law requires you exit the country for a 72-hour period before returning.

Many “perpetual tourists” have restarted their 3-month tourist visa that way for years.

If you are planning a permanent move to Costa Rica, establishing residency is a fairly straightforward process. You can apply as a “pensionado” (retiree) by proving an income of at least $1,000 per month from a permanent pension or retirement fund.

Where Is The Best Place to Retire in Costa Rica?

Many areas are popular with expats seeking to make Costa Rica their home. But, the most popular area — by far — for retirees is Costa Rica’s Pacific beach region. Specifically, the northern beach communities near Playa Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo. Here you can fulfill your dream of an endless summer where the jungle grows right up to the edge of pristine beaches and crystal-clear water. This area is a mecca for fisherman, surfers and other adventurers. A large expat population makes for quick friends, fun activities and availability of familiar products. At the same time, you can mix and mingle with the locals and immerse yourself in their culture.

With all of these advantages, Costa Rica makes the perfect drop for those wanting to spend their retirement in a healthy, active, natural setting. Without sacrificing Social Security benefits, access to healthcare or safety, retirees can expect success in their relocation to Costa Rica and many years of happiness in the jewel of Latin America.

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