Pros & Cons of Living in Costa Rica

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Over 40,000 U.S. citizens now reside in Costa Rica. The Republic of Costa Rica is about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire and is located just north of Panama in Central America, according to the U.S. Department of State. Costa Rica is in the tropical region, and is a democratic country with abundant wildlife and activities. Living in Costa Rica has both drawbacks and favorable aspects, and the transition can be a challenge.

It costs about $600 per month to live in Costa Rica.
It costs about $600 per month to live in Costa Rica. (Image: piratedub/iStock/Getty Images)

Pros

Costa Rica has a desirable tropical climate. More than 6 percent of the world’s species can be found in Costa Rica. Costa Rican's highly regarded health care is free and universal. The cost of living in Costa Rica is affordable. The government is friendly toward foreign residents, and up to 80 percent of the coastal property in Costa Rica is owned by foreigners. If you are earning a living in Costa Rica, up to $70,000 of your Costa Rican earnings are exempt from income tax in the United States. The Costa Rican government is a democracy with elected officials. The diversity in the ecology of Costa Rica is a pro, because you can see beaches, volcanoes and rain forests. You can participate in innumerable activities, including whitewater rafting, soccer, bird and butterfly watching, dancing, hiking and even extreme sports. It is also easy to start a business in Costa Rica, and there is a well-educated workforce.

Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches.
Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches. (Image: chriss73/iStock/Getty Images)

Cons

It is difficult to get a job in Costa Rica if you are not a national citizen. In fact, if a national citizen can do the job, a foreigner cannot have it without getting special permission from the Costa Rican government. According to the U.S. Department of State, Costa Rica is not a country that is easy to do business with. Although starting a business is easy, getting that business to really produce an income may be challenging. Earning a living can be quite a challenge. The transportation infrastructure is very old, and roads need a great deal of repair. Also, 18 deaths occur from car accidents per 100,000 kilometers (62,137 miles). The immigration process is difficult.

Earning a living can be quite a challenge in Costa Rica.
Earning a living can be quite a challenge in Costa Rica. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Immigration

A valid passport is all you need to go in and out of Costa Rica. You must apply for residency from your home country before heading to Costa Rica, and your application is submitted to the Department of Immigration. North Americans are typically warmly welcomed. You must earn at least $1,000 per month to qualify for residency, and you must prove you earned that amount each year. You must stay in Costa Rica for at least six months of the year. You will need your birth certificate, marriage certificate, proof of income, a certificate from the police department where you lived last, photographs and an Interpol background check. All of your documentation must be translated into Spanish. You must issue a sworn statement that you intend to abide by the laws. If you do gain residency or citizenship in Costa Rica, your U.S. citizenship cannot be affected.

There are several obstacles to overcome to live in Costa Rica.
There are several obstacles to overcome to live in Costa Rica. (Image: Balalaika/iStock/Getty Images)

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