We'll be vacating in Jan to see if we want to retire here/need advice

Hi, I'm almost 65, retired and in good health. My wife and I plan on vacating for 8-9 days to Costa Rica in January-flying into San Jose. My idea is to see if retirement someplace in Costa Rica would suit us.

We want to get acquainted with the culture and lifestyle. I'm thinking we'll rent a car and travel from San Jose to the Pacific and drive south to check out the beaches. Then I was thinking we could drive over to the Atlantic side and drive back up north on that side and back to San Jose.

We'd like to find a location where retirement would be enjoyable, not in the heart of a big city but somewhat rural where we can still get to convenient shopping.etc...

We have my retirement income at about $1600 a month, plus other assets if needed. We'd rent, not buy.

So our plan is to check it out and see how it feels, so your comments and suggestions would be very much appreciated. We do not know any Spanish to speak of, and I am studying a crash Primsleur course--ha ha so at least I can ask where the bathroom is!

Richie

Living at a beach area will likely cost you more than $1600 a month, especially if you intend to drive and maintain a car and pay rent. Even in the Central Valley, depending on what you are looking to rent, it will be difficult to stick to your budget. You will as a Legal Resident be required to be affiliated with the health system here, which could cost $150 (fees are always increasing) when over 55, and you pay a percentage of your declared income as a Pensionado.

Grecia, Puriscal, Atenas, or some areas of San Ramon which are too foggy/humid for me but may suit you...as all offer slightly different climates.

We spent a month looking around and did dot see the Caribbean or the Nicoya peninsula.  We then re-grouped. DON NOT be in a hurry.

If you are seeking an attorney who can recommend realtors, and get you a residency card, we recommend Adrian Fernandez in San Jose. He speaks perfect English and can answer all your questions. His number is 506-8386-1698 or you can reach him at ajfm07[at]gmail.com.
Regards
Alan and Gina

OK I can tell you 1,600 a moth to live here is a little low.  But if you watch what you do it can be done .  Depending where you live rent can run like on the coast 500- to a 1000 a month.   I live in San Isidro the central valley.   Been here 6 years.   Here in San Isidro the rents are 400-800'  Car prices here are extremely high I payed for a 96 Suzuki side kick at 8,000 US. Note this country is the most expensive to live in , in central America.   Then once here you must renew the visa every 30-60 days that means a trip out of the country.   It is a over night stay that add,s up . Food well many things are more expensive then the US, some lower like vegetables and coffee. Beef is not so good and all there is not a large selections to choose from.   I am looking my self at other countries . Cost RIca has disappointed me a bit  There is very little culture here, the cities are not so pretty.  I my self would am looking at Ecuador where there is much more culture and things to do or Uruguay.  The latter though expense wise is a little high, Bur Ecuador much less then here and full of what you would find in the US.

My wife and I have retired to Atenas, Costa Rica, about 30 miles west of San Jose. We have been here for 2 1/2 years now and absolutely love this little, agricultural town of about 9,000 -- of which over 3,000 are ex-pats, mostly from North America.
I agree with other posts: $1,600 is a bit lean for living here. The two of us live comfortably on about double that amount, but we purposefully did not bring our vehicles here which is a huge savings. Roads mostly are not good and tear up tires, transmissions and brakes something awful. Besides, public transportation here is fabulous and dirt cheap. This little town also has over 400 taxis which is more per capita than Manhattan.
65-85 degrees year round isn't hard to take either!

hi rich - i have lived in cost rica six years .  it can be heaven it can be hell.  but that is true every where. . there are frustrations living here.   the slowness of things .  and the ticos don,t seem to care.  lawyers seldom answer phones they always show up late for appointments.   but it all in all is not so bad. but know this is now the most expensive country in central america to live . prices here can exceed the usa.   and there is a limited supply of things like groceries. there are many places to choose around san jose , another spot is san isidro the central valley is a good chose you can be in the mountains where it is cooler and one hour to the beach and three to san jose san isidro has the basic needs groceries ect but nothing of the choices san jose offers.   cars here are very expensive . hope this helps bye

Hola Rich,

If you go to retireforlessincostarica.com, you'll see a great breakdown of Paul and Gloria's monthly expenses.  They live on about $2,000 per month and as you'll see you can cut that down even further.  They live just down the road from me and I know they live a comfortable lifestyle.  You would not be able to live on $1,600 per month if you are in or near San Jose or on the coast.  Well, you could, but not very comfortably. 

I would recommend that you NOT move your belonging here until you've spent "at least" a year here.  It's expensive to move things down and cost prohibitive to send it back.  Keep in mind that most rentals include furnishings.

There are nice, newer two bedroom homes around San Ramon area for $500 per month - fully furnished.  If you watch Craigslist Costa Rica you'll get a good idea of prices.

It will be hard if not impossible to get an idea of what life is like here in 8 or 9 days.  So many people visit "on vacation" and see it all through rose colored glasses.  At the same time it may be enough to decide if you do not like it.

As I've said before, if you are a type A personality, have not traveled outside of your home country much, don't speak Spanish at all, you most likely will not like it here.

Hope you do enjoy the vacation,
- Dave

Ok Dave I lived here 6 years. I have not seen a over abundance of furnished homes. They can be found yes but on whole not so common.   The prices very on area of where you are . The coastal area on west coast high  800 up .  I live in San Isidro and costs of furnished homes are about 500 up.   TIcos seldom furnish there rentals.  Visit check it out, but also look at other countries too.    I like Costa RIca but it has its problems one is its getting expensive here.

Here in Atenas, understanding that there are thousands of ex-pats here, virtually all housing comes fully furnished, down to kitchenware and plates. Our place, argueably, is on the higher side: 5,000 sf in two stories with outdoor jacuzzi, refrigerated air conditioning and incredible views yet walking distance to downtown runs $1,600 per month -- including ALL utilities. That said, very nice furnished places probably average $1,000-1,100 in Atenas with 2 bedroom 2 baths and lots of amenities. Outlying areas get cheaper. Friend with a million dollar place rents it for $1,300 and it includes an infinity pool and 500 sf detatched maids quarters. Prices can be all over the place.

Rich
I would look around Uvita or Ojochal. We love it, but you have to be a little adventurous and not a nervous person. You can get up in the forest so it won't be as hot or busy.  The target income for that area to me is $2000 gets you pretty good and $2600 gets you all you would want. Electricity, fuel, food and vehicle expense will be the lions share and not any different than the US. Decent local shopping and if you make a monthly run to San Jose for bulk and dry items you can save a lot. Spanish will be helpful but not necessary. Hospital fairly close and local doctors office. Also you won't make it up and down and over the country in 9 days unless you never stop driving. When we were looking before we bought we made 3- 8 day trips to each region before making the decision on Uvita.
Regards
Nick

I agree with most of the above regarding the idea that you need to spend more time in  Costa Rica before deciding to move; you need to commit to learning Spanish well - not learning Spanish is one of the reasons people end up not adjusting to life in Costa Rica.

If you can outright buy a small home and not pay rent then you can probably make it on $1600/month or less if you live in a lower rent area like San Ramon (not Atenas or Grecia or near the beach), maybe Puriscal (not sure of prices there now but it used to be fairly reasonable). I think there are probably other mountain areas where you can live cheaper than in the more popular Atenas/Grecia area. But if you have to pay $500+/mo. rent it will be tight on $1600/month.

The most important info I can give you is not to PLAN on moving to Costa Rica until you've spent at least a couple months there - preferably more. And do plan on continuing to study and learn Spanish if you are going to live in any Spanish-speaking country.

samramon :

I agree with most of the above regarding the idea that you need to spend more time in  Costa Rica before deciding to move; you need to commit to learning Spanish well - not learning Spanish is one of the reasons people end up not adjusting to life in Costa Rica.

If you can outright buy a small home and not pay rent then you can probably make it on $1600/month or less if you live in a lower rent area like San Ramon (not Atenas or Grecia or near the beach), maybe Puriscal (not sure of prices there now but it used to be fairly reasonable). I think there are probably other mountain areas where you can live cheaper than in the more popular Atenas/Grecia area. But if you have to pay $500+/mo. rent it will be tight on $1600/month.

The most important info I can give you is not to PLAN on moving to Costa Rica until you've spent at least a couple months there - preferably more. And do plan on continuing to study and learn Spanish if you are going to live in any Spanish-speaking country.

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