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we are baby boomers thinking of retiring to Costa Rica

Hi   my name is Sunny , my soon to be husband  is Storm , we currently live in Fort Lauderdale and am tired of the traffic and traffic and crime and  lack of manners, some of you know  what I'm talking about.

this is a big step and we want to get information and hope to communicate with people willing to help us get there.
The questions are  simply, health care, social activities and  crime levels  best areas to live in, preferably in an active adult community and  cost of  living, where do you shop, what is best to ship a vehicle from states or buy there ?

Wr are active, friendly caring people, he is former law enforcement, I in the medical field  Hope to hear from you

Hi it os hard to recommend where to live we all love the place we settled in (well most of us) I Live in Heredia Hills and lI  before  this iived a month in lot s of [laces..There is crime here ,, much to the amazement of many ex pats but
crime is mostly in the danger areas .. like most beaches especially Tamarindo and Jaco...and of course the capitol San Jose.
I live in a lovely area Concepcion de San Rafeael ,country atmosphere yet 15 minutes by bus to lovely clean town of Heredia.
.This area is not saturated with Gringos so we ;earn Spanish, and because of this prices for most things are cheaper ( rent food etc. )
25 years ago we dove in and knew  no one so  you have an edge, with help from this site you MAY learn a lot but the best way to judge is come and rent for a month or two and you will  know if it feels right .    Message me if you want a pal here but I do not have time to be a pen pal but will answer as best and as often as I can
Deb

Dear Sunny and Storm,

You can find a lot of information on International Living.com.  As for personal experience My husband and I are moving back to Costa for good in June. We liked Montezuma best and have already found a place to live. You can go to Flip Key for places to stay temp or full time. Montezuma is a little town with a very active expat community.  There are shops, restaurants, hotels, classes you can take and the beach is gorgeous.  Healthcare, we have been  told is about $300 per year. Medical costs are fairly inexpensive.
Kind regards
Sherry O'Connor

Thank you for your reply, it is a big decision and the more information we get helps us to feel  comfortable also to know there are friendly people out there.

Whoever told you that health care is about $300 a year is WAY off.  The lowest I have heard is around $50 per month and I know a couple that left Costa Rica because their fee was to be $650 per month.

You mention that  Healthcare is 'about $300 per year.'...but this will vary dramatically , depending on what legal status you apply for,  age, and will be a percentage of your declared pension.  Not all Rx's are covered and many are generic. Those who have been a resident for many years may pay $300 a year, but not a 'new comer'.

Private healthcare  costs are fairly inexpensive....compared to the USA and most expats use it due to long wait times for appointments to see specialists and surgeries.

Info on shipping a vehicle

Previous link added again for more details and showing more  'realistic premiums' for CAJA.

I only know from my own experience there. I was at a Christmas party and the cheap price of Costa healthcare came up in discussion . Everyone who had been living there for a while told all the newbys about how cheap the yearly healthcare was and that treatments and surgery were sooo much cheaper than the USA. . We have a call into our relocation specialist to find out if the Caja medical plan has gone up. His name is Kevin McNamee  and his company is Great Sunrise Enterprises and he can be reached at www.greatsunriseenterprisescostarica.com.  He has been very helpful so far and has answered all of our questions. I will let ya'll know what he says.
Sincerely,
Sherry O'Connor

I don't know your ages, we are 64 and 63.  We have always dreamed of a tropical retirement. So many of our classmates have passed away that the decision to retire and move to Costa was a no-brainer for us.  There are a lot of things to think about...but once you are there you will wonder what took you so long to get there. Good luck in your decision making.  It helped us to write a pro/con list.
Sincerely
Sherry O'Connor

While you wait, here is the website of a well known lawyer who has put together good information regarding Residency and living in Costa Rica.

Thank You  it is so good to hear from you, it shows courtesy and manners , something we see too little of here, all the information is much appreciated  Our next step will be a visit to explore the area  any suggestions as to where to stay ( we would like typical , smaller natural places to stay) and hopefully meet some residents.

Try Flipkey.com  that's how we found the place we will be living in.  When are you going?  We will be in Montezuma by June 2  and would be glad to show you around, also we have an extra bedroom you could stay in while you look.
Sincerely,
Sherry and George

Sherry and George,  thank you for your reply   I do have an e mail  which makes it easier  and I cam send you some pictures .

Your offer to stay in your spare room touches my heart  if this is the caliber of neighbors we will have in Costa Rica , it makes me want to get there faster.

what part of  Costa Rica   are you living in ?  Is it an active community or are you in a private home   away from  the  mainstream ? 

my  email is bostondaze[at]hotmail.com

by the way if you need to make a trip to Fort Lauderdale for shopping  or business, we have a guest cottage for you to stay in.

thank you :) .  I look forward to meeting you. My husband ,George, is sending you an e-mail with pics. He will also have info for you to look at, talk to you soon.
Your neighbor,
Sherry

Hi Sherry,
This is Storm. It sounds like you live by where I built a spec home about 5 years ago in the Nicoya, Nosara area. I do still have some friends who live in the area. We all used to live on Catalina Island off the CA coast and about 6 people from Catalina have relocated there over the past years. Randy and Brenda Bombard own Harbor Reef Resort  in Nicoya,  Nosara and Kathy Cappuctti  owns a home right on the beach there as well as other properties and is in the real estate business there. She is the one who owned the property that I built the spec home on. It should have made us some good money but I ended up losing money on the deal. It has been a few years since I have been there. I know there is still a problem leaving your home unattended, even the spec home I built there was broken into twice and there was nothing in it.
My main concern is still proper emergent medical care for senior citizens and the ability to get to an airport ( I hear they are still in the process of paving the road to Nicoya, Nosara) the new bridge they put in was a great step forward.
Thank you for sharing your experiences there, it is a big move and we still are weighing all of our options.
Sunny has never been there and I want to take her there to see the area as well as Mt Arenal and hopefully get her on a 2 day Pacuare River Tour which is a great experience. We would love to meet you and hear about your experiences there!
Warm Regards, Sunny & Storm

TerrynViv :

Whoever told you that health care is about $300 a year is WAY off.  The lowest I have heard is around $50 per month and I know a couple that left Costa Rica because their fee was to be $650 per month.

The $650 /mo was a Rentista residency, not Pensionado, though, right?

tamerlanesunny :

Hi   my name is Sunny , my soon to be husband  is Storm , we currently live in Fort Lauderdale and am tired of the traffic and traffic and crime and  lack of manners, some of you know  what I'm talking about.

this is a big step and we want to get information and hope to communicate with people willing to help us get there.
The questions are  simply, health care, social activities and  crime levels  best areas to live in, preferably in an active adult community and  cost of  living, where do you shop, what is best to ship a vehicle from states or buy there ?

Wr are active, friendly caring people, he is former law enforcement, I in the medical field  Hope to hear from you

Most areas are fairly low on crime, no more than in most USA locations though there are a couple "hot spots" for crime you may have heard about. However I suspect some crimes of a violent nature (there very few of these actually) are drug or criminal-activity related... For the most part Costa Rica is as safe as most USA locations.

San Jose has a fair amount of crime but most outlying areas have much less crime. The main crime is property theft, not armed robbery or murder etc..

Buying a vehicle vs buying a used one here - depends on how much money you have to spend, in part and how much hassle you're willing to go through to import one here.

My research led me to decide to buy here but we only had about $8k to spend on a car. If you have more and have a car that will work for you here (i.e. 4wd if you are going to drive much off the main highways on back roads), then you may want to import it. But personally it sounds like a lot of hassle to me and ABOUT the same price as buying here by the time you pay import duty, shipping, etc. Cars cost way more here than in the USA. Example: a nice city driving Honda 2007 with low mileage in the USA will cost about the same as a 2000 4x4 here in Costa Rica with high mileage.

If you have a lot of $ I'd suggest buying a new car here but that's going to cost a minimum of $15k or so... (this is an estimate, I've not investigated prices recently on new cars). But a new car here is going to cost a LOT. Car insurance is not cheap in Costa Rica, either, about the same as I paid in the U.S. but U.S. had better coverage including a rental car if you need it - which will cost an arm and a leg here if you get that coverage.

As for cost of living it totally depends on where you live and how you live.

We're a couple, living on $1300 a month and doing okay with that. Can't travel much or go out to eat much but we buy what we want to eat, have a car with insurance, have internet and drink a couple beers a day and buy stuff we need including SOME luxuries. Our electricity runs around $12/month, internet is $35/mo, gasoline runs about $60 every 10 days or so, food is maybe $200-300 a month of our budget because we like to eat well including some organic veges and fruits.

But we pay no rent so if you are going to pay rent add another $600-1000/month to the monthlyh budget figure.

WHERE depends on many many factors so you'll have to tell us if you want beach, mountains, city, country, or etc. , hot, cold, cool, warm, less rain, more rain, etc...

$12 a month for electricity is very low, :top:  but when choosing to live at the beach or just to use AC anywhere in the country, it may bring your monthly bill up to $200, $300 or more. Electricity is not usually included in long term rentals.

My wife and I, in our mid-60s, own a condo near the beach in Tamarindo.  Our electric bill is typically between $200 and $300 per month, depending upon air conditioning usage.  We try to rely on ocean breezes and multiple house fans to keep us cool but use A/C a few times a week when it feels too hot.  I know of people that keep their A/C on almost all of the time and pay about $700/month for electricity.  Our water bill is about $50/month.  In 2013, we bought a 2008 diesel SUV for about $20K.  You can get around on the mostly paved roads without an SUV, but if you want to travel around Costa Rica and travel on unpaved roads, I prefer the extra ground clearance of an SUV but use 4WD only rarely.   "Lack of manners" is worse here when driving, but Costa Ricans can be very nice on a personal level.  As mentioned above, "crimes of opportunity", i.e. theft (not robbery), is very prevalent.  If Storm is former law enforcement, he will be frustrated by stories of how ineffective crime investigation and punishment is in CR.  Private health care is good in CR; public health care has problems, especially outside of the San Jose area.

kohlerias :

$12 a month for electricity is very low, :top:  but when choosing to live at the beach or just to use AC anywhere in the country, it may bring your monthly bill up to $200, $300 or more. Electricity is not usually included in long term rentals.

Yes, we have all LED lighting, and only run the computer, and refri daily. Wash clothes once a week, no dryer.
No fans (as of yet) and certainly no a.c..
This is the advantage of living in the mountains as opposed to the beach. At night it gets COOL here; we sleep with blankets! Last night wifey asked for an extra blanket! During the day we stay outside most of the time but even inside it's not THAT hot except for a couple hours. Sweating a little is good for you! LOL.

One thing about AC a builder told me: most builders here do NOT insulate the houses well and so a.c. escapes outside. If you build a home in Costa Rica and plan to use a.c. put extra attention on INSULATION and closing up all gaps where the cool air will escape.

Keep in mind that Costa has at least 12 separate micro climates . Plus the fact that we are in the middle of an El Nino and that makes things different than usual. We have been told by the landlord who has lived in the space we will take over that his electricity runs $40 a month , he never uses his one A.C.. Our rent will be $800 per month and that is right off the beach!  When we were there last time we ate veggies, rice and some chicken. Our treat on hot days a smoothie or ice cream. We had wine and beer in the house and we spent about $150 a month. We did laundry with the washer and I loved hanging the clothes on the line. They smelled so good.

In short your time in Costa and how much you enjoy it is up to you.  Go there expecting a new adventure and be open to new ways of doing things.  Don't compare these things to what you did in the US, remember you left there for a reason.

Hi Storm,

I couldn't remember if I had written back to you.  If not ...sorry.  Thanks for your informative message. There seem to be so many negative nanny's out there, I really appreciate your and Sunny's attitudes.
George and I always see the cup half full. I am looking forward to meeting you both. We will arrive in Montezuma on June 2, let us know when you will be out that way, our door is always open (and walls hahahaha).
Sincerely,
Sherry

Three years ago when you lived here previously you may have spent only $150 a month on food, if you were being very frugal, but you sure can't do it now. I live simply, in a rural area and even my Tico friends & neighbors who, like me, are on a tight budget, spend much more than that.
With transportation costs It  is more expensive to purchase fresh produce and deliver it on the coast, than in San Jose where the main markets are located, so prices will reflect this.
So be prepared to increase your food budget when you return.

Hi  thanks for the  you tube  we watched and found it informative, we have been getting a lot of response  people willing to share their knowledge.

We realize it is going to be a long process, the first step being to step out of our comfort zone and  enjoy a simpler lifestyle.

A trip is definitely in the works  Hope to meet up with you when we  do  will stay in touch

ok  look forward to it


Sherry

Tamerlanesunny or anyone interested in Nosara or other areas of Guanacaste, check out this local newspaper for more information. Lots of interesting articles.

kohlerias :

Tamerlanesunny or anyone interested in Nosara or other areas of Guanacaste, check out this local newspaper for more information. Lots of interesting articles.

Kohlerias,

Thanks for this post. I hadn't heard of this newspaper before.  (...and why if it's on the web do we still call them news"papers?"  🤣)

- Expat Dave

ExpatDave, it is actually a printed newspaper in both English and Spanish every month...but it only available in certain areas of Guanacaste. Many of it's article are reprinted in other 'on-line newspapers'. It received an award in February and others in previous years.

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