Please tell me of your costs and experiences


My name is Michael....73yrs young....have been looking for 2yrs (Internet) into first a visit to CR and if it is what it sounds like.....laid back...relatively inexpensive....socially inviting....I would like to obtain a pensionado visa and begin living in CR full time. ....  I have a pocket full of Espanol, a head for adventure, a mind that is fueled by common sense and a desire to live the life of a Tico or as close as to that as possible being a gringo.  A 1 bedroom with running water and a hammock near the bus line to the beach is all I need.  I exist on fruit & veggies and have no desire to drive a car in CR.

So assuming I find CR to be all I've mentioned, my first task will be applying for that visa......does anyone know of a good lawyer in the Orlando Florida area that can handle most of the paper and leg work....I'd like to keep travel costs down to a minimum and get 90% of the process done that even possible.  Please tell me of your costs and experiences....I'd like to learn from you.



@Michael Trainor .......Remove from your psyche that Costa Rica is 'relatively inexpensive'..Just come down for the vacation before you consider anything else......Guanacaste(the Gold Coast) is for wealthy foreigners.The bottom line, if you are on a budget Costa Rica is not for you....Ticos are world famous for their friendly aspect but not big on getting too close as in ever having you over to their home as a regular guest, if ever..Americans or Foreigners in Costa Rica are not ever allowed the same playing field because they are considered having more $$$$$$.

Thank you for your response......when I say relatively inexpensive I am speaking of living on approx $1700 per month....I'm not interested in Guanacaste as an area to live ....I agree that Guanacaste would prove to be too expensive.....I've been looking more at Ciudad Colon and/or San Isidro areas.....I also plan on using the bus and eating pretty much veggies n I do now.   Do you think $1700 would do it per month?  I'm guessing $500 - 600 for rent  & utilities...maybe $700.....I have always lived a fairly simple and inexpensive life.

@Michael Trainor ......It is doable for 1 person.Another thing is what will be your caja payment, if you decide the legal residency route ? The border runners their days are counted, not all are getting the extended 3 month renewal back into Costa Rica.People are having better luck just getting a cheap flight out for a few days....Cuidad Colon is still very charming but Escazu-Santa Ana has been expanding west for years as in prices....San Isidro del General/Perez Zeledon is relatively undiscovered to an extent, compared to what was mentioned previously.......

Thank you again....this is encouraging......and yes, it is just person....  When I first come for a short visit I plan to visit San Isidro primarily because it is closer to the beach than Ciudad Colon.  I don't plan to do border runs.  My research tells me that I can stay in CR if my application has been submitted for a Pensionado visa.....if this proves to be untrue then I will just need to fly back to Florida after 89 days until my application is approved and then fly back I assume.

As far as CAJA is concerned I believe the cost will be $100 - $150 per month.

After my 1st visit my main concern is going to be trying to apply for Pensionado (assuming I decide to stay) and I would like to take care of as much of the paperwork required while still in the you know of good immigration lawyers that can handle this in the Florida area or would it be better to find a CR immigration lawyer during my 1st visit and let them guide me....also, do you know if CR lawyer fees exceed U.S. lawyer fees?....any info or recommendations are, of course greatly appreciated

@Michael Trainor ......No.....I don't like referring lawyers or anything to anyone...Just because they  did OK with me(property purchase decades ago) doesn't mean they'll do good for someone else.As much as I love Costa Rica because I was born here,I really don't understand anyone throwing money to a country where they don't have any roots or history, with money they can't afford to lose.To come for a vacation,Costa Rica is the best place in the world for that ! Anything more than this, you have to be very careful because the exodus of the'tucked tailed' out of here has always been,with disillusioned Americans.....And that fact is not hard to find.

You would do best to educate yourself about the requirements for pensionado residency and do as much of that as possible for yourself while you are in the States. All the documents you submit to Immigration here must have been issued ANEW within six months of submission and they all must be APOSTILED with the exception of the Social Security income verification which you can receive online from the U.S. Embassy here.

I think your guess about the cost of the CAJA to you may be a little low.

There are seven "San Isidros" in Costa Rica. Best to sharpen your aim a little.

@Michael Trainor The law is that once you have filed that you do not have to leave ... that is true, but if you do leave, the border agents 'swear that you are wrong'. I used to travel with a letter from an attorney. With that said, I only know what I knew when I did it.

Also, the best way to apply is do all the paperwork yourself and show up at immigration. You will have better luck, it is much cheaper AND it is quicker. There is minimal respect for lawyers at immigration.

Here is a list I made for inversionista. Google will help you fill in the blanks for pensianado:

Here is the list of requirements (requisites) for inversionista … atorias%20(Extranjer%C3%ADa)/Categor%C3%ADas%20Especiales/Residencias%20Temporales/Inversionista%20y%20Dependientes.pdf

For you Birth Certificate, I always use this company and then send off to get apostilled locally:

To get the FBI background Check, this is the company I have used and referred to others:  THIS HAS TO BE LESS THAN 90 DAYS ... … er-556-73/

Then you send off to get apostilled:

1.  Mail the completed DS-4194 Form (printed on regular paper) to the address stated on the DS-4194 Form along with:

a.  The FBI Authenticated PDF

b.  Self-addressed/prepaid return envelope (FedEx is not acceptable)

c.  $8 U.S. Check Payable to “U.S. Department of State” (last published rate, may change without notice)

2.  State Department address is (last published, may change without notice):

Office of Authentications

U.S. Department of State


44132 Mercure Cir, P.O. Box 1206

Sterling, VA 20166-1206

AND you have to get an appointment to get fingerprinted in CR: … ellas.aspx

Click on Toma de Huellas Dactilares (it really only likes Google Chrome Browser) … and make appointment. YES, it ONLY opens up the day of the month, for that month, to make appointments. It appears to open new dates on Sundays. 

After you have all your docs, go VERY EARLY and get in line at immigration and make your application.

Information about Citizenship for over 65 years – requirements: … e-65-anos/

Also, Ciudad Colon is great and you can find lots of places to rent rooms ... I know of several if you are interested, with good views, etc.

I hope this helps.


@Michael Trainor Fist of all, my recommendation is to come, rent a car and explore.  My daughter and I have spent a year finding the right place for us.  We have learned a lot in that time, made some expensive mistakes, and now feel much more confident in our dealings with Tico.  We have met some very nice people and some we would never trust.   Are you interested in finding out more  then please private message me at [email protected].

@Michael Trainor The advice they give is very valuable and correct, especially the cost in places like Guanacaste, there are many other beautiful places with a much lower cost and better climate, and for this reason I would only make one recommendation: there are residences where you can stay and have qualified staff, you can access various types of care, company or assistance, they are also with professionals who can ensure your health and at the same time teach you about life in the place, attractions, healthy lifestyles, you can join a community and make friends, and all in a residence with temporary stay while you know the place and find what is best for you.

I can recommend some online magazines such as: also residences such as have beautiful facilities, perfect climate and many amenities, I understand that there are always many questions but I hope that this collaboration on my part can be of some use.

PS: also in these places they can help you do your paperwork more easily

Costa Rica is beautiful 🇨🇷

@daveandmarcia I've been paying caja since January. In two months it jumped from 55,000 to 62,000 colones (~$115) for one person with $1000 declared income. Make your conclusion. The funny thing is that those, who came here before the raise are paying peanuts..

@Michael Trainor one your application is accepted, you will receive a form “golden ticket” which will allow you to stay as long as your application is being processed (1-2 years). No 90 border runs. You can also come and go as you want. When researching a place to stay, do not overlook San Jose or Central Valley. San Jose has some great neighborhoods (Barrio los yoses, Barrio Escalante, Barrio Dent)  and Jaco short bus ride from many stops from downtown 7-10 bus station to highway 27 to Pacific side. Good luck.

@daveandmarcia I've been paying caja since January. In two months it jumped from 55,000 to 62,000 colones (~$115) for one person with $1000 declared income. Make your conclusion. The funny thing is that those, who came here before the raise are paying peanuts..

From the recent experiences reported by a small handful of local expats, whenever your residency (or citizenship) status changes, it appears that the CAJA is taking a very careful look at your monthly obligation.   

Of interest is that, for many, the monthly CAJA charge is a combination of two charges: the first is for enrollment in the health care system; the second is for enrollment in the old age pension program. In order to qualify for a monthly old age pension, you must have been paying into it (much like U.S. Social Security) for a number of years in order to qualify for a monthly pension payment when you turn 65. The two charges are about equal in cost.

Since most expats will not have paid into the pension for long enough to qualify for a pension, one wonders why they're being charged for it. A friend is addressing that matter now.