In retrospect, would you move again to Costa Rica?

Hi all,

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Costa Rica, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Costa Rica so far?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!


Yes but only thing different is I would of moved sooner. We moved a few pallets of stuff not much went well no complaints on the move. I feel lucky buying a home in the jungle 2 miles from the beach and just far enough from town and loving it. Home was well built small and only a few small issues but I'm a hands on kinda guy so gives me a few projects that I need and enjoy. What I would of done differently is learned Spanish sooner for sure as it is a on going process of charades sometimes explaining what I want or need, but hey I love a challenge. Been planting lots of food giving plants and loving how it's all grows so well here. It is hard trying to retire earlier than what's expected in the states but hey never been one to conform to what society tries to make us do. Downsizing is key and living a minimal style life style is very refreshing and freeing.

Sure I'll take a swing...I first came here in 2001 on a business deal. I had no idea where Costa Rica even was before my first visit, which occurred right after the twin towers came crashing down on Sept 11, 2001.

The "deal" had me coming to Costa Rica about once a month for the ensuing two years, until it closed on my birthday, Dec 5, 2003.

During that time I made up my mind that Costa Rica was going to loom large in my future. I started a travel company here and by 2005 I was living here, pretty much full time.

This place has changed my life in so many ways that I couldn't possibly fully explain in this semi-short reply. The way I ended up here was very unconventional and I wouldn't recommend my route to anyone. However, here I am and I can never really see myself leaving.

Funny thing is I actually tried to...for 5 months last year. Things got bad in my business and I thought it might be a good idea to move back for a while. I chose Portland, Oregon, a place that I felt was more in line with my ideology, but to which I didn't have the slightest "tie." The move lasted 5 months before I "high-tailed" it back to where I know I really belong, here in Costa Rica.

What would I do differently? I spent the first 10 years in San Jose, thinking that was the place for an entrepreneurial sort, like me, to be. I finally decided to move south to Perez Zeledon and I've never been happier.

My advice to aspiring expats. Don't do it like I did it...have your ducks in a row first. And come down and explore a little first to discover what part of the country is really consistent with your expat frame of mind. I like to call it the 4 C's of Costa Rica expat living...Climate, Culture, Convenience and's a good framework for evaluating the type of life you want to live in Costa Rica.

Here's a blog post I wrote about it...

If I ever leave Costa Rica again it will be to go further south and probably only part-time...I've got familial ties and business interests in Colombia...

But I'll always be anchored here...

Pura Vida!

We planned to move here for many years. In fact I made an aborted attempt to live here in the mid '90's but had to move back to the states.

So we eventually made the move last year. We were/are on a tight budget so we sold and gave away everything except what we could fit into about 9 duffel bags. We brought 5 duffel bags with us and then there are about 4 more with friends that we'll bring later.
It was both liberating and sad to let go of so much stuff! Even old photos and souvenirs and stuff we'd had for most of our lives... had to be let go.

We had a big garage sale and gave the rest to Goodwill.

We "downsized"! It's amazing how much CR*P a person carries around for years and years and accumulates more and more of... and it was liberating to free ourselves from so much of that cr*p.

As to living here vs. the USA, I much prefer it here. No, it's not perfect and I can easily write a long post about why, or you can look at my blog which is listed under my profile and see the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, LOL.

An expat neighbor of mine said "It's like, here in Costa Rica I have a life. Back in the USA I just sat around and did nothing." That's pretty much true for me as well. Back there I worked part time at a j-o-b, then worked at home the rest of the time on the internet, and between the two I just sat and sat and sat.

Here, I work on the property, I have more close by friends, I am constantly busy with improving the property, working on the house, doing this and that. I walk more, do more, am outside more here. I've lost 4" off my waist in 6 months (and I needed that; now I'm pretty much at a normal weight I think; at least I feel healthier). Doing more exercise just by sweeping the floors, walking, standing, being outside more.

Seeing wildlife just outside our home is an adventure! Toucans, monkeys, iguanas, parrots and birds of all types, is a lot of fun!

The sunsets are awesome every night and it's like living in a park with all the trees and birds and butterflies and other wildlife!

If I had it to do over again - and if I could manage to do it - I'd save more money for retirement. As it is we live on a fairly tight budget. It would have been nice to bring a container full of stuff but our budget simply didn't permit it. Also I'd prefer to have a newer better car! But again, our budget was limited.

All in all it's working out fine and I am so glad I came here! My wife is less enthusiastic but it seems to be growing on her.

I AM Not sure! It Is definately Not What its made out to be!! Almost EVERYTHING is much more expensive. The infrastructure could not possibly be more inefficient. It takes forever to get anything done. Multiple offices, usless duplication of forms and for the most part people don't really know their job! Just ask a though question and the are clueless. I spent 5 days and 5 different offices to pay a traffic ticket!! Democracy?? Costa Rica is not close. More like a Socialist country. Government controls the people, keeps them down and really doesn't listen to them. Really great people but like sheep. Now that I think about it...NO!  I probably wouldn't have come.

Like most posters here would say:  come and stay as long as possible before moving here.  It's not paradise.   If someone tells you that, they probably have something to sell you.  Most people who live here, Tico or Gringo, have something to sell you and it's the Wild West as far as consumer protection is concerned, worse if you don't speak Spanish.

Would I still move here if I had the chance to do it over? Maybe.  The best thing about living here is the weather and the people of Guanacaste.  Such humble, honest, friendly and giving people.  Now that I'm here I'll probably stay for a while.

We would never do it again.  We did it right the first time.  Anyone who complains it is expensive here did not do their research before they moved.  Anyone who moved on a whim did not do their homework.  We are from Canada with a devalued dollar and we make it and live well because we planned and experienced.
Our home is here now and we enjoy it much more than the Great White North.
There is so much negativity posted here and other places from people that did not do their homework.  The Wizz said it well above and I have nothing to sell.

After reading your posts about how you seem to hate Costa Rica all I can say is I hope you have packed your bags....No chains holding you here

Hello.I have lived here in CR San Ramon area going on 4 years.I only have 1 regret, I wish I would have learned the language.I get by but it it does have some draw backs.I wouldn't live anywhere else and have made some profitable investments to add to my SSI income.Prices are high for food , autos, Gasoline , Electricity ,and many other things. Petty crimes like theft are somewhat common so you need to watch your stuff and don't leave your home alone to long. But considering The good ol USA and the state its in im happy and safe right here. good luck

We are doing our homework now. Thanks for the advice. So far we like the area around Puriscal. We like the mountains more than the beach, but can easily get to the beach from Puriscal. Trying to decide if we want to be close to the town or out in the countryside? Do we want to retire or make a little money with a bed and breakfast?

We are in the Puriscal area, drop us a note if you get close ...... we love it here!

We are leaving Tuesday, but we will be back. I'm glad I found this web site to learn more. We had dinner for some locals that spent time in New York so they speak English. Lot of food help. First we will start learning  the language and keeping up with this web site. Thank you!

While I am glad that you 'hooked' up with locals to find out more of their community, realize that they will probably know nothing about residency issues, living and/or  working that affects extranjenos  when they apply for residency, so please continue to search.

Actually, they knew a lot about becoming residents. One of our guests just moved to CR 7 weeks ago. She emailed us paperwork that has to be done and the name of her attorney. I know we have just started our journey and I really appreciate your advice and warnings.


I I took what you wrote, and 'read' that were Costa Rican citizens.

None of us know everything... :dumbom:

Sorry...I didn't include that some were expats. I have heard about the residency issue. Thanks again for helping me stay alert! 😊

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