Cheryl Cantrell
AP - 0347 4100
Grecia, Costa Rica

Toll Free: 866.325.9805

Living and Retiring in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations due to its stunning beauty, easy access and kind hearted citizens. As more and more travelers discover the beauty of this country, the number of foreign citizens moving to Costa Rica on a full time basis to live and work or to retire is growing exponentially. The natural beauty and climate are obvious draws, and with an increasingly volatile world, the peaceful and laid back nature of the Costa Rican people are becoming equally as important in attracting international residents and retirees alike. From a practical standpoint there are also a host of reasons which have contributed to the growing populous of international residents here in Costa Rica. The cost of living here in Costa Rica is a fraction of what it costs in North America, Canada and Europe, with a quality of life that simulates the Hawaiian tropics without the $6 per gallon of milk price tag!

The absence of capital gains taxes, minimal property taxes, and the ability to secure residency with special status granted to foreign citizens looking to invest in the country or spend their retirement years here are just a few of the logistical and practical draws which have thousands of Americans and Europeans flocking to make this paradise their home or an affordable place to retire with paradise as the backdrop. Costa Rica boasts a highly educated society, with a literacy rate of more than 90%, a very professional health care system available to the general population along with some state of the art and affordable private clinics.  Since we were both self-employed in the States, health insurance after retirement was quite cost-prohibitive, but here we enjoy access to the CAJA system for $65 a month, which covers us both.  We also have access to one of the finest and most modern hospitals in the world at CIMA, which is a private hospital linked to the Baylor Health Care system in Dallas, Texas.  Check it out for yourself at:  A doctor's visit there is typically about $25 and the appointment with the doctor is a minimum of 30 minutes and $20 was our copay in Dallaswith insurance---and we didn't see the doctor for a time even close to 10 minutes much less 30 minutes!  Can't beat that!  We have both had extensive dental work done here with the highest degree of professionalism and at rates you would not believe, but you can compare yourself at:  Costa Rica is also a celebrity haven for plastic surgery and obviously not for the low pricing, but the optimum results they get, not to mention they probably sneak in a nice tropical vacation at the same time!

Inexpensive labor costs for both domestic and professional services allow for affordable help whether you are looking for an employee for a new business venture or a live-in caretaker to assist you with your daily chores or gardening.

So, is Costa Rica just Nirvana with no bad stuff?  Not even the most gullable will believe that, so to be fair I must tell you some country and cultural differences that just are what they are.  The roads are worse than you would find in the U.S. of A.   Some have said that if the road system were better it would not be considered a third world country because there are so many other advances that are so much better than our other Central or South American neighbors.  Gasoline and imported cars are more expensive here.  We sold our cars in the States and bought one here.  Electronics are more expensive here so we brought our TV's and stereo.  Culturally, they are a non-aggressive, non-confronting people to the point of fault.  They will tell you what you want to hear even if they can't do whatever it is just to please you.  It just is what it is.  Does the bad outweigh the good?  Not even close, and all you have to do is go to the Saturday morning market where you can buy an overwhelming variety of fruits and organic veggies at a very small fraction of what you pay in the States.  We take a rolling cart and probably spend less than $20 to fill it because cantaloupes are 3 for a buck, pineapples 2 for a buck, potatoes are a buck for a kilo (2.2 pounds), strawberries are a buck a pound (yes, that's true), 2 huges heads of broccoli for buck and a half.  Prices are really really low and quality is as good as you can get anywhere and certainly fresher than can be obtained in the states.

Our team of legal advisors, residency facilitators and accountants can answer any questions you might have concerning the logistics of making Costa Rica your home, and are always on call to make the transition a smooth and easy one. In addition to our staff, there are large "ex-pat" associations who participate in everything from political round tables to environmental protection forums so you won't be left without an active and dynamic social life with Costa Ricans, Americans and Europeans alike.

There are a host of different options when looking for a retirement property here in Costa Rica and our goal is to establish and open an in depth dialogue with each of our clients to insure that we help match your vision, dreams, and practical needs with an area and specific property which will fulfill those goals and requisites. Whether you want to be part of a golf and tennis community in a coastal area, your own private rainforest estate in a more isolated and private area, or are just looking for a comfortable town-home outside the city to enjoy the cultural activity and services of the Central Valley, we have the property for you.  Please come see for yourself.

Our wish for you is "Pura Vida".


The New York Times


January 7, 2010
Op-Ed Columnist
The Happiest People 
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica



Costa Rica

Hmmm. You think it?s a coincidence? Costa Rica is one of the very few countries to have abolished its army, and it?s also arguably the happiest nation on earth.
There are several ways of measuring happiness in countries, all inexact, but this pearl of Central America does stunningly well by whatever system is used. For example, the World Database of Happiness, compiled by a Dutch sociologist on the basis of answers to surveys by Gallup and others, lists Costa Rica in the top spot out of 148 nations.
That?s because Costa Ricans, asked to rate their own happiness on a 10-point scale, average 8.5. Denmark is next at 8.3, the United States ranks 20th at 7.4 and Togo and Tanzania bring up the caboose at 2.6.

Scholars also calculate happiness by determining ?happy life years.? This figure results from merging average self-reported happiness, as above, with life expectancy. Using this system, Costa Rica again easily tops the list. The United States is 19th, and Zimbabwe comes in last.
A third approach is the ?happy planet index,? devised by the New Economics Foundation, a liberal think tank. This combines happiness and longevity but adjusts for environmental impact ? such as the carbon that countries spew. 
Here again, Costa Rica wins the day, for achieving contentment and longevity in an environmentally sustainable way. The Dominican Republic ranks second, the United States 114th (because of its huge ecological footprint) and Zimbabwe is last.
Maybe Costa Rican contentment has something to do with the chance to explore dazzling beaches on both sides of the country, when one isn?t admiring the sloths in the jungle (sloths truly are slothful, I discovered; they are the tortoises of the trees). Costa Rica has done an unusually good job preserving nature, and it?s surely easier to be happy while basking in sunshine and greenery than while shivering up north and suffering ?nature deficit disorder.?

After dragging my 12-year-old daughter through Honduran slums and Nicaraguan villages on this trip, she was delighted to see a Costa Rican beach and stroll through a national park. Among her favorite animals now: iguanas and sloths. (Note to boss: Maybe we should have a columnist based in Costa Rica?)  What sets Costa Rica apart is its remarkable decision in 1949 to dissolve its armed forces and invest instead in education. Increased schooling created a more stable society, less prone to the conflicts that have raged elsewhere in Central America.. Education also boosted the economy, enabling the country to become a major exporter of computer chips and improving English-language skills so as to attract American eco-tourists. I?m not antimilitary.. But the evidence is strong that education is often a far better investment than artillery.

In Costa Rica, rising education levels also fostered impressive gender equality so that it ranks higher than the United States in the World Economic Forum gender gap index. This allows Costa Rica to use its female population more productively than is true in most of the region. Likewise, education nurtured improvements in health care, with life expectancy now about the same as in the United States ? a bit longer in some data sets, a bit shorter in others. 

Rising education levels also led the country to preserve its lush environment as an economic asset. Costa Rica is an ecological pioneer, introducing a carbon tax in 1997. The Environmental Performance Index, a collaboration of Yale and Columbia Universities, ranks Costa Rica at No. 5 in the world, the best outside Europe.
This emphasis on the environment hasn?t sabotaged Costa Rica?s economy but has bolstered it. Indeed, Costa Rica is one of the few countries that is seeing migration from the United States: Yankees are moving here to enjoy a low-cost retirement. My hunch is that in 25 years, we?ll see large numbers of English-speaking retirement communities along the Costa Rican coast.

Latin countries generally do well in happiness surveys. Mexico and Colombia rank higher than the United States in self-reported contentment. Perhaps one reason is a cultural emphasis on family and friends, on social capital over financial capital ? but then again, Mexicans sometimes slip into the United States, presumably in pursuit of both happiness and assets. 

Cross-country comparisons of happiness are controversial and uncertain. But what does seem quite clear is that Costa Rica?s national decision to invest in education rather than arms has paid rich dividends. Maybe the lesson for the United States is that we should devote fewer resources to shoring up foreign armies and more to bolstering schools both at home and abroad.

In the meantime, I encourage you to conduct your own research in Costa Rica, exploring those magnificent beaches or admiring those slothful sloths. It?ll surely make you happy.  PURA VIDA!!!  (The Good Life)



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