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I am looking at Costa Rica for retirement I can afford which isn’t proving possible in The US. I am a long term traveler. I am 70 yrs old, a three time cancer survivor who has a budget of $1000 a month. I have a people friendly dog who must come with me because he makes me laugh and laughter keeps me young. I have an ebike, a bed and electronics to come with me. It’s a 92 hr drive from here so advice on shipping items would be great and I am hoping that somewhere out there is a person who can lead me to the right town. I can’t live in the mountains. I have many questions about expat experiences in country.

Cannell747 :

I am looking at Costa Rica for retirement I can afford which isn’t proving possible in The US. I am a long term traveler. I am 70 yrs old, a three time cancer survivor who has a budget of $1000 a month. I have a people friendly dog who must come with me because he makes me laugh and laughter keeps me young. I have an ebike, a bed and electronics to come with me. It’s a 92 hr drive from here so advice on shipping items would be great and I am hoping that somewhere out there is a person who can lead me to the right town. I can’t live in the mountains. I have many questions about expat experiences in country.

Hola Cannell,

Welcome to Expat.com!

I would invite you to scan through the many, many posts on the Forum that will help you navigate the questions that you might have.

You can live on $1,000 per month here if you can live in the U.S. on the same amount.  It will not be luxurious, but it can be done.  On shipping your items, I would look at the cost of shipping them vs. the cost of just purchasing them new here.  Not sure on the e-bike.  I know they are available as rentals in San Jose so I would assume you could buy them here as well.  Dogs are easy to ship via several airlines.

As everyone here will tell you, you'd need to spend time here to figure out what fits you're needs and lifestyle.  To say that you don't want to live in the mountains is an interesting comment.  Costa Rica is pretty much a mountainous country.  Even if you lived along the coast if you cruise anywhere inland you'll end up in the mountains.  At the same time, if you like the heat, a "beach life" may be what you are looking for?

Scan through the previous Forum posts and let us know other questions that may come up.

Best of luck in your research,
- Expat Dave
Expat.com Team Member

Because I have had so much lung removed I breathe best at 2000 feet or less.  Thanks for your reply, I will check out the forums.

Cannell747 :

Because I have had so much lung removed I breathe best at 2000 feet or less.  Thanks for your reply, I will check out the forums.

You will still have many areas to choose from.  The lower you go the warmer it will get so it will just depend on what heat and humidity you like. 

To live on $1,000 per month you will need to live in a more rural area where prices are lower.  I'm in the process of moving to the southern part of CR, minutes from the Panama border.  Prices are cheaper as it's close to Panama.  Explore!  Find what you might like.  ☀️🌴

- Expat Dave

ahhh that explains not being able to live in the mountains...Take care and try NOT to DRIVE here cost more in bribes at borders and is NOT Safe I know MANY who wish they had not tried to drive..but avoid shipping especially furniture so I agree very much in what Dave said...Check "climates in Costa Rica,,,and also take CRIME into the picture (avoid  certain areas a dog will not help alas the thieves would kill the poor creature...I personally advise avoiding  San Jose Dingy and dangerous and doggie would hate it so would you..Caribbean Coast Drug Cartels have virtually taken it over in the last 6 years or so... avoid a few other areas that if honesty abounded here you would be warned on many post of the past..NOW about your dog! I have 6 and all neutered loved and rescued.  So an avid dog whisperer who KNOWS that Costa Ricans are not too fond of dogs   I have many that have -passed on  over the rainbow bridge but I know a thing or two about living or bringing dogs here, I Never really want to rent to dog owners, ONLY Because my dogs are gentle but possessive and can be territorial..I have  only out of sheer pity have I done so and it worked out...Such as 10 months ago when a woman stuck way out in the boonies ina hotel (and cost her $15 each way to go for any food ) and she had  been turned down with her little mutt...When I called her back a few days later I could not help but say get in a taxi UBER and bring him over to see..Now guests tell my I must be the only place in CR where the dogs do nOT bark at night. So with fingers crossed little   "Rocky" spent a few nights here in a furn apartment (also fingers crossed he did not lift his leg..
Well indeed  my dogs Barked like crazy every time he was taken passed their dog runs On a LEASH even...I dreaded telling the nice woman that it may b=not work out, but decided to give it a try and let them get to know each other on a leash ..and surprise surprise... my dogs decided Rocky was an OK guy and decided that he also could run around the 3 acres with THEM...Well they stayed  many months and Rocky thought he had died and gone to heaven He even :"Sat" when I gave my dogs their morning "school after a " SIT" command he was rewarded with a soda cracker or 2 or 3...what fun LOL .so to cut a long story short he was one lucky dog with a great place to live and the freedom to become a Rocket as I called him. and his Mother and I had bonded like sisters going everywhere together shopping, lunch , etc.....until sadly  last week after taking his Mom" to many specialist friends for pain in her back right side ,after catscans,xrays, ultra ssounds ,They gave us the bad news,. she would have to have a kidney removed which had a cancerous growth inside of it.  Needless to say She and I and Rocky were devastated, and had big decisions to make because now he felt after 8 months that this was his home, and so had hs Mom. I will respect her by not mentioning her name, But although she had a kidney specialist here who would do the operation we decided that due to her age and the risks that she should return to the USA, and be with her "sister" strange cos by then His MOM and I  felt like sisters...Sadly 2 days ago we said our goodbyes and after receiving emails from her I can only ask for prayers as it is the dreaded "C" so she is due for operation Plus chemo and rads ..UGH and poor little Rocky is now confined to a leash ..after all that freedom..
Anyway sorry to ramble on but in sadness I do mention that it not easy to find a dog friendly place to live here.and I ask those who believe..to please say a prayer for  2 of the nicest tenants from Canada that I ever had...
Bless you both I miss you and still teary eyed..even my dogs are now sadly searching the farm for little Rockette , Bless them BOTH... I wish you HEALTH so you can come back to your little home in Hereda Hills
:( Thank you all for listening to my tale of woe...  Pebbs

Thanks!

Living on $1000 per month here maybe possible, but it won't be pleasant.   This is not a cheap country!
Budget the same here as in America.  Also, you have one-time expenses that will add up as well like flights home.  A car will probably not be an option. 

My advice is to take a trip here and see what life would be like as a true typical Tico, which is what $1000 will buy you.   People here do it because they grew up in that lifestyle.  For a typical American to do it is a different story.  My advice is to see what it's like on vacation before committing ANYTHING to moving here.   Also, residency will cost you thousands in fees and until then, you need to fly out of the country every 90 days or do border runs.

Thanks!

So sad. Panama is looking better!

thewizz :

Also, residency will cost you thousands in fees and until then, you need to fly out of the country every 90 days or do border runs.

Many expats leave the country every 90 days to avoid the costs of residency.  This is legal and/or tolerated by the government for now.  You do not necessarily need to "fly" out however.  Being on the budget that you would, you can take a bus or even walk across.  Prior to applying for residency we simply walked across the border, obtained the stamps that show we'd exited into Panama or Nicaragua and then turned around and walked back in.  Nicaragua was a lot more expensive as we had to bribe a number of officials on the Nicaraguan side to come back in.  They try to convince you that there is a requirement to remain outside the country for 3 days.  There is no such requirement at all unless you are carrying $10,000.00 in cash.  (This according to a reputable attorney.)

- Expat Dave

I would say that living here your proposed budget will be very tough.
Unless you apply for residency you will not be covered by the  socialized medical system here. This could take a year, so you will have to be prepared to pay 'as you go' until you have a cedula. and due to your health situation, it could get expensive.

Information regarding the Residency application, which requires a minimum $1000 per month in a 'guaranteed for life' pension,.

Thanks!

Unfortunately I agree with Kohlerias, that living on $1k a month is very very difficult because prices have gone very high here over the past 5 years. I think it's because of the exorbitant import taxes and sweetheart deals that favor the Chinese, but that's just my opinion. Regardless, prices are high here, with many normal things like appliances and electronics costing nearly double or more than double of the USA.

IF you buy a house and have no rent then it is more do-able, and more so if you buy a house near a bus line so you don't have to have a car or even use taxis.

If you cannot buy a house here then I would suggest not moving here on $1k a month. I hear Panama is cheaper. Mexico is MUCH cheaper than Costa Rica BUT there is the drug cartel problem and even aside from the drug cartel many people now kidnap anyone they think that might have money or hold a gun to their head to get money. I know this for a fact as I have relatives in the Guadalajara area where it USED to be safe, but no longer is.

That said, there MAY be parts of Mexico that are still safe...? You'd have to investigate. I used to LOVE to go to Mexico and have seen many parts of it and spent time there! But now... I am afraid to even go there.

kohlerias :

I would say that living here your proposed budget will be very tough.
Unless you apply for residency you will not be covered by the  socialized medical system here. This could take a year, so you will have to be prepared to pay 'as you go' until you have a cedula. and due to your health situation, it could get expensive.

Information regarding the Residency application, which requires a minimum $1000 per month in a 'guaranteed for life' pension,.

I will add that depending on where you live, the health system here can be less than great. From what I hear if you live around San Jose it's pretty good, but in outlying areas it isn't always that good.
Regardless you often have to wait way too long for needed surgery because "they" determine it isn't that urgent. And the lines to see the doctor are often long, up to 4 hours of waiting starting at 6 or 7am in the morning. Personally I try to avoid using the CAJA system but then I generally try to avoid doctors, even in the U.S. BUT in the USA it is generally easier to get surgery or treatment when needed in a timely manner.

Another thing: Medicine here USED to be cheap. Now there are many medicines that are not generic here but ARE generic in the USA. So you pay way too much for them... For example I use an allergy med that is generic in the USA but not generic here. Costs me $20 for 2 months supply in the USA, but costs me $70 here. And yes I've shopped all over for it, it's $70 everywhere here. The other day I bought a prescription for another (new) health problem. The medicine I needed was $50 for one month. I asked if there were ANY other cheaper med I could use and the doctor and pharmacists said no.

So the point is, even medicine is not as cheap here as it used to be.

Before it sounds like I am saying "it is too expensive to live here on a budget", I am not. We live quite well on a pretty small income. BUT we don't have to pay rent which is the big difference.

If you don't pay rent then the cost of living here is maybe a little cheaper than living in the US without paying rent. if you pay rent it's about the same I'd say, all things considered.

Thanks! I have given up on costa rica

Cannell747 :

Thanks! I have given up on costa rica

Yes, in your case I think you probably made the right decision. 15 years ago $1k a month could do it in Costa Rica but not now, I think, unless you own your own home free and clear. Even then it requires a non-luxurious lifestyle and budgeting for expenses like RTV, prescriptions that CAJA doesn't cover, normal car maintenance, car insurance, property taxes and so on...

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