Wanting to move from Canada

Hi All

My Wife and I are ex South Africans that moved to Canada in 2002. We are Canadian citizens now, and have been for a long time. As most of you Canadians know; life in Canada has changed much over the last few years. So - as the average middle class Canadians that we are; we have found that we will work in Canada to the end with no retirement in the future; or move to Costa Rica and enjoy a much better life in Costa Rica. As we were originally subtropical people who grew up on an ocean coastline; and all that we have learnt about Costa Rica, we are wondering why we never discovered this a long time ago. We feel that we would fit in almost naturally with the similar culture and way of life.

We are hoping to make contact with Canadian expats in Costa Rica that were in a similar "boat" as we are, that have been there at least a few years; and can help us with giving us their experience and help point us in the right direction.

Despite all we've learnt that we can from this side, we also know of some of the not-so-pleasant sides of moving and living there...... to be realistic. We still believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives; however; do not want to fall victim to any scammers that would want to take advantage of us on the move.

SO - ultimately, other than some great personal advice, we would like to find reliable; trustworthy advice on connections to immigration lawyers to Costa Rica; reputable moving companies; etc; etc.

Our Plan is to become permanent residents / citizens, we also still both want to work; at least on a part time basis. I am a tradesman; with many many other skills; and my wife is an early childhood educater; also with various other work skills.

We are still in our early to mid 50's and would like to contribute towards living in Costa Rica by working and volunteering in whatever like-mined interests that they have there for us.

Pleas help and advise,

Wayne and Tracy

@tjuckufarley Good day, I am in a very similar situation as you are.  Migrated to Canada, worked hard, practiced immigration and family law in Toronto, and find that Canada has changed so much I am not prepared to remain in Canada.  I bought a beautiful home in Tamarindo and I am making a complete transition to Costa Rica.   I still work in Toronto, why don't we meet in Toronto for a coffee to discuss?

Adela Crossley

@johncrossley1 Another thing, my sister-in-law is from South Africa, became Canadian, and moved to Tamarindo already and is living there full time, permanently now, and absolutely loves it.


Hi Adele,

We are also a couple from South Africa and living in Tamarindo. Not full time yet, but will be shortly. We are in Tamarindo now for 3 months and will return to SA for  9 months and be back again, hopefully full time.

OMG, let us connect!!!!!!

We do not know people in CR and currently, my brother and sister-in-law live full-time in Tamarindo.   Close to the Garden Plaza, in the Senderos community.

Why don't you guys meet up for a drink at Pangas????   I love that place, my favorite so far in Tamarindo!!!

I am stuck in Toronto as I am a litigator with daily court attendances but I am determined to do a Freddy Mercury one day and break free!!!!!

@tjuckufarley if you search this expert on the internet for advice about real estate and life it may help you understand costa rica ****

Moderated by Bhavna 7 months ago
Reason : Please recommend in private or in the business directory. Thank you
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

@johncrossley1 we can meet at any time. Pangas are good too.

@janstappertjie I am not in Costa Rica right now.  I plan to come and go, but for now, I am going to be based more in Toronto.  My sister-in-law is there though.

@tjuckufarley .........Make sure you understand this clearly..**** If you don't have 100% financial backing from a pension,trust or investments, you don't qualify to be a legal resident.If you think Costa Rica is suppose to do something for you, let there be no mistake it will be the other way around.I guarantee it !........

Moderated by Bhavna 7 months ago
Reason : Unnecessary
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

This is so very unhelpful.  No one remotely asked to be "hand fed".   I find your comments to be inappropriate, unhelpful and unfriendly.

Please stop this, no one benefits.  This forum is designed to help, support and not demoralize others. 


Well said mate, you got the worse guy to reply to your message! John is right, Costa Rica is awesome!! We are in Tamarindo and we love it here. We are also from South Africa and will settle here in Tamarindo shortly! We are currently in Tamarindo looking for our 3rd property or opportunity to do something! This place is on the go all the time. However, there are many other great places to live within Costa Rica. Happy to assist where we can. Regards,

Danny and Ronel.

The best advice anyone can offer to someone who's thinking about resettling to Costa Rica is to bring your money with you. First, to apply for pensionado temporary legal residency, you will need a rock-solid lifetime-guaranteed monthly income of $1,000US or the equivalent. If that income is not from a governmental source, Costa Rican Immigration may not accept it. The other forms of temporary legal residency have different requirements, but I'm not current on those.

Until you have permanent legal residency, which takes about five years, you are legally prohibited from performing any work that a Costa Rica citizen is capable of. You may get a job offer from a Costa Rican employer, but they will have to apply for a one-year work permit and success is not guaranteed.

You can own or establish a business, but you cannot actually perform work in that business. You might, for example, open a restaurant, but while you can direct the work of Costa Rican employees, you cannot cook, clean, bus tables, greet customers and take orders, etc.

My point is . . . bring your money with you.

@janstappertjie ....johncrossley......For the sake of the group/thread,please share in what ownership structure you are invested here as tourists-turned-investors.....It would give a lot of insight on property investment/ownership as there is more than one way to own property in Costa Rica.....It would allow those who want to compare South Africa and Canada to Costa Rica,to understand the differences in real estate law and consumer protection.....

Hello everyone,

please note that I have put aside some posts. We should try to keep the it cordial on the forum.

I am curious to hear what the OP thinks about the advice he has been given so far.

Thanks to all participants for taking their time to post their insights on the forum.

All the best


I can share my experience (more extensive that I have expected for 2 years here), which may hopefully help you to plan your next steps. Just send me a private message if you wish to connect.

@Henrych -hi  - yes we would be very happy to get as much info from a more "seasoned" / experience person as yourself; that has been there for a few years. I specifically would like to know the legal ins and outs of moving from Canada as citizens, (since leaving South Africa back in 1999 - I'm sure has no relevance.).

It would be easier learning from others' mistakes and helping to make the process more efficient LOL.

We would much appreciate it Henrych.

To anyone thinking of moving to CR and working, "Dave y Marcia" know the rules.  They have been here for some time.  To those needing any kind of lawyer I urge them to do their due diligence verifying and speaking to prior clients and anglos from north of the border..  There is a wide gap between good honest lawyers here and hucksters professing to be good.  There is a "Canadian Club" in the San Jose area which is full of long term residents with experience in CR and newbies.  Again, use caution in relying on those contacts.  So far everyone who has been less than honest in their business dealings with me have been Canadian. ( NO offense, just my history ). Finally, the real estate market here, has exploded in late 2022 and 2023.  Especially in Guanacaste. Live in the area you want to reside in for several months before buying.  Pure vida pervades the culture here and requires patience and acceptance of that culture to be a happy expat here.

@daveandmarcia Thanx for the info guys. I am aware of this portion with my own research so far, so we WILL be bringing ALL our own finances to Costa Rica with us. This part of our process is already done by having our financial analysis been done through a professional investment firm. We will be able to live the rest of our lives in CR without having to work. (One of the main reasons that we are leaving Canada is because the government here keeps letting in tens of thousands of refugees per year; and giving many more shelter here from many troubled regions of the world. While this is a very noble cause and I can't dispute the action, it is putting a very real strain on the fairly small population of working people to help try and support this. Almost daily, life gets more expensive for the working class because of the money being milked for the extra-mural activities besides the usual standard of living we try to maintain for our families. So we understand more than most that it is not desirable to move somewhere and expect to be given free hand-outs indefinately.)

Having said that - at some point we both would like to have some sort of semi-retired / part-time job for 2 reasons:- 1) We don't want to sit on a porch everyday of our lives watching the sunset until the end of days; the boredom of inactivity will kill me alone :-) . 2) So a small part time job will keep us from boredom (as there is only so much "retiring" you can do every day); and if we can contribute to CR society in some sort of way with the many skills and experience that my wife and I will be bringing with us; then why not?

@sporto505 Thanx for the candid comment sporto. I can relate to exactly what you said. This is the main reason for me starting this thread. How do I reach out to a lot of "friendly strangers"; to be able to point me in the right direction of finding the truly honest information and resources that we need to make the move. We are currently at that step right now, everything is done other than findind a proper immigration lawyer; trustworthy realtor - so we can secure a rental home for at least the 1st year; a trustworthy moving company; and some solid advice from someone that we can trust. (Hopefully this is what this site is designed for).

While we have already experienced being ripped-off already in the past; and should be able to recognise it; the tactics continue to evolve and it remains difficult to spot the shysters.

So if there is any way that you can supply me; or point me in the right direction to the successfull side of this whole transition - with confident proof of honesty; it would be greatly appreciated more than you know.


@Bhavna _ Hi Bhavna ;  Trying to navigate my way through and hoping to filter out the honest and candid information needed to help with the move. You may have noticed some of my response posts trying to communicate such. I am truly hoping that this thread leads me in the absolute right direction in able to make the move. I know that there still are more honest people out there than not .......... and with those that have already made the move, that I can we can learn from them; and make our transition easier. - Thanx :-)

@tjuckufarley There is an enormous amout of work for a professional handyman in my area. Locals "i know it all" are ignorant and aren't able to deliver quality. Hence any experienced and honest professional has a lineup to him by both ticos and gringos. All pay cash of cause. Electricians, builders, AC, appliances, carpenters, plumbers, etc., etc.

@Henrych especially car mechanics.

Me again . . .

Remember, please, that you cannot compete with any Costa Rican citizen for a job.

And the income you use to qualify for legal residency MUST be guaranteed for life. That your finances are managed by a professional finance management firm matters not. It's the source of the income and the monthly amount that matters.

Also, engage a Costa Rica-based container shipper to bring your household goods and personal property to Costa Rica. Literally anyone can order a container to be delivered to your door, to be loaded, and then to be trucked to a port of exit to be shipped to Costa Rica. I could probably accomplish that much.

The critical issue is getting that container load through Costa Rican Customs and delivered to your new home here. That is where local contacts, local knowledge and experience come into play. I've known a handful of U.S. citizens who relied on U.S.-based shippers and had many, many problems, delays, and extra expenses. Those folks are good at what they're good at, but their ability to deal with Customs here is where the problems arise. Deal with someone who knows what the heck they're doing.

@Henrych - I am a Tool and Die Maker by trade - and can use any and all workshop equipment. I call us in the trade "carpenters in steel". With what goes into the trade - I have above average skills in other fields because of this. I've built my own basement; mended the house where and when necassary; repair most of my own appliances and in-house issues without needing to call a "proffessional"; basic plumbing electrical; welding; etc........ So hopefully what you are saying is that a person with my skill set would be in demand??1f60e.svg1f601.svg

@daveandmarcia Thanks for your very valuable information. So far the financial advice that you mentioned, I already have and ready to go, to the letter of your words. As far as the moving logistics go; can you hopefully give me some names; numbers; etc. of companies that can move my stuff from here to CR that are based in CR?

Also; an english speaking immigration lawyer based on that side too? I need to get a solid list of required documents to submit and have ready proactively.


Sounds like you will be in demand ANYWHERE!!!

I have 4 degrees and I feel inadequate beside you! 

@johncrossley1  - Just an old fashioned blue collar worker whose never been afraid of getting his hands dirty. Not to mention - in my early years (20s) worked on the ocean, for an organization that researched sharks; dolphins; turltes; sea birds; etc. The sea is a big passion of mine; and while I'm still in my mid fifties, would love to see what offerings that has in CR.