This week, our attention has turned to several natural disasters in the United States and abroad, such as Hurrican Florence in the Carolines and a super typhoon slamming the Philippines.
The reality is that no matter where you go and how caution you exercise, natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricans, floods, and other storms can and will occur. An emergency can leave us in dire circumstances -- and even be life-threatening.
Luckily, Costa Rica is pretty sheltered from the massive storms that blow through the Carribean and other natural calamties, but even flooding during the rainy season can turn deadly if you're not aware and cautious.
So, I wanted to give you a little general Natural Disaster 101 today:
In Case of Emergency
Natural disasters, blackouts, theft, or sudden medical issues are unnerving enough, but they can be positively frightening if they occur while on vacation or living abroad. Far from home, in a foreign country, an emergency can leave us in dire circumstances -- and even be life-threatening.
Here are 13 general tips how to prepare and deal with natural disasters:
1. Email yourself vital information.
Before you leave home, put any pertinent user names and passwords, pin numbers, social security number, passport information, etc. together on one document. Email it to yourself (on a secure email) that you can log in from anywhere to access.
2. Make sure other people have your itinerary.
Enlist someone to be your safety net back in your home, and make sure they have copies of your vital information. Provide them with your detailed travel itinerary and have a few planned check-in points where they are expecting an email from you, letting them know all is well.
3. Register with the U.S. embassy.
It's a great idea to register with the local United States embassy when you visit another country, called the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP) especially in developing countries or out of popular tourist areas.
4. Give your hotel or apartment information to your contact back home.
Consider your hotel your "safe house" and always let them know if you are going on tours or day trips and with whom. Provide the hotels' phone number, email address, etc. to your contact person back home.
5. Stock up.
If a bad storm or hurricane is expected, get to the local market as soon as possible and stock up on flashlights, batteries, canned goods and an opener, big containers of clean water, a first aid kit, candles and a lighter or matches, etc.
If you drive a vehicle, make sure your spare tire is good, you have rope, some boards to get out of mud, and flares, etc.
6. Hit the bank machine.
If trouble is in the air, visit the ATM and take out a bunch of cash in U.S. dollars and local currency. In the event of a power outage or system failure, the ATMs may not work or just be out of money.
7. Earthquake safety.
Experiencing an earthquake is one of the most frightening things you can imagine. And unfortunately, they happen quite frequently in many countries and parts of the world. Amazingly, there are over 13,000 earthquakes of 4.0 magnitude or higher every year in the world - including some in Costa Rica! Stay indoors in a solid building and turn off all gas and electric immediately.
8. Know where the police station and hospital are.
It doesn't hurt to scope out the local emergency services when you first get in town, especially if you have medical conditions. You might even want to visit the hospital just so they have your records and information on file and know your blood type!
9. Organize any medications.
Make sure you document any important medical information like blood type, medical conditions and allergies. Keep a copy on your person and one at the hotel. Keep your medications well organized and have a few dosages-- enough for 24 hours-- in your day bag in case of emergency. It also doesn't hurt to travel with a few basic medical supplies like Aspirin, Neosporin, butterfly Band-Aids, etc.
10. Check local and international news.
In case of emergency (like a typhoon, protests, coup attempt, etc.) pay attention to what the locals do, as they've probably dealt with those situations before. But also watch international news and research global Internet stories so your information is well rounded.
11. Have an "Oh, sh*t!" bag ready.
Of course I use much stronger language (but it may be a family vacation you're on). Keep one backpack or day bag stuffed with everything you would need if you had to make a quick exit or evacuate in case of catastrophe.
12. Book several flights in case of evacuation.
In case you need to fly out, such as in the event of a bad earthquake or hurricane, etc., the airlines are going to be swamped and many flights might get canceled. Go on a booking website immediately and book several flights over the next few days. As long as you book them with travel insurance (and some might be canceled) you can always get some or all of your money back, but the most important thing is just to get to safety!
13. Err on the side of caution.
The good news is that nothing out of the ordinary happens to 99.999% of vacationers, but in case there is an issue, play it safe. Don't try to be a hero, don't put yourself or your family in danger, and please don't think it's a good time to be macho. It's much better to be overly cautious and get through the situation unscathed, alive and well to go on vacation again.
Stay safe and pura vida!
The official expat,
For more great and helpful advice on moving to Costa Rica or just visiting, check out the Official Expat's Moving to Costa Rica Handbook.
Starting a Business in Costa Rica
Some people move down to Costa Rica to retire, with plenty of savings and other funds to kick back and relax. But more often than not, expats that choose to make Costa Rica their new home have to work for a living to bring in enough income to get by.
Don’t fall for the misconception that everything will be cheap and easy becausRica is a tropical Central American country. But in fact, Costa Rica is no banana republic; in the nicest neighborhoods of San José, or in popular international tourist destinations like Tamarindo, costs can rival that of in the United States or Canada. So, you’ll probably find yourself working – or opening your own business.
As we’ve documented in this guide, getting work may be no insignificant proposition, but very rewarding once you’ve landed the right income stream (you won’t feel like you’re in the “rat race”).
Likewise, opening your own business may be the best path to earning money. To do it properly, I encourage you to take your time, study the area, the market for your services and the competition, talk to a lot of business owners, network with the right locals and expats, and build a super conservative business plan.
Owning a business can be a supreme headache in Costa Rica if you’re not prepared and don’t have the right, trustworthy people on board. But once you’ve carved out your niche and done all the hard work to get the doors open and promote your business, it can bear huge fruit, giving you the opportunity not only to live in paradise but also make great money at the same time!
Here are some tips and notes on opening a business in Costa Rica:
The government makes it easy for foreigners to do business here in part because they want more jobs created for Ticos.
You don’t even have to be a resident – you can start a business on a tourist visa.
In fact, Costa Rica commercial law does not mandate that owners and shareholders in companies have to be citizens. Foreign business owners do, however, name a local Tico licensed attorney to be their “resident agent.
A standard 90-day tourist visa allows you to buy an existing business, like a hotel or B&B, or to build your own.
Keep in mind that only two out of three expats who go into business here succeed.
Whatever you do, don’t expect to strike it rich. With luck, you can make a good living and enjoy an amazing quality of life in Costa Rica!
When opening a business in Costa Rica, there are several options for corporate structure:
1. General partnership, or Sociedad en Nombre Colectivo
The business entity is owned by partners, who share the liabilities and responsibilities. Since not a common or attractive choice since there is little liability protection, with the company typically just the owners’ last names followed by the word “Compañia.”
2. Limited partnership, or Sociedad en Comandita
This entity is operated by a group – sort of like a board – that is responsible to the interests of shareholders. Their liability is limited to the original declared value of the enterprise.
Last week, someone emailed me with an important question. He was thinking about moving down to Costa Rica, along with his family and young children, and posed a question about something that may be in the back of all of our minds:
"Is Costa Rica safe?"
Like everything, there's a simple answer and a much more complex, detailed answer. (For instance, I emailed him back asking if he considered life in the U.S. these days safe?)
In the Moving to Costa Rica Handbook, I went to great lengths to explore all aspects of staying safe while living or even just vacationing in Costa Rica. Of course, if you're moving your family and children down to Costa Rica, this is of the utmost importance.
In fact, I've written extensively for publications like the Huffington Post and others about safety while traveling and living abroad.
Here are a few notes, thoughts and highlights from that guide for you today:
Costa Rica can be considered a safe country, but it’s important to use common sense and act responsibly at all times, just like you would in your home country.
The reality is that you have to be careful no matter where you are in the world, but with some common sense, you can stay super safe in Costa Rica.
Every country (including the U.S.!) suffers from street crime. But you want to avoid countries where there’s political upheaval or religious extremist groups — and Costa Rica definitely doesn’t have those problems.
But whether people want to face the facts or not, Costa Rica is a major transit point for drug trafficking (especially cocaine that comes from Colombia and South America, is dropped off the shores of Costa Rica, and then makes its way up the Pan American highway and into the U.S.)
So, it goes without saying that NEVER buy drugs or go into places, neighborhoods, remote coastal areas, etc. you shouldn't be in.
Travelers who run into problems are usually doing something illegal, wandering around drunk at night, in a place they shouldn’t be, or not keeping their wits about them.
I've found that the local guys can get really feisty at the bars or when drinking, and often becoming aggressive and territorial towards foreigners. The easiest way to counter this is just to make friends with some local guys, who will then watch out for you! But be careful where you go, who you talk to, always pay respect, and don't get too drunk.
Petty theft is also a big problem in Costa Rica, although it's usually just break-ins to homes and cars, not violent muggings. In the handbook, I cover plenty of methods to protect yourself from theft.
Here is just one of those many safety tips:
Use official taxis.
It’s usually best to arrange taxis and car service through your hotel or legit tourist agency because then you know they are accountable and official. But if you do need to hail a cab on the streets of Jacó or late at night out by the beach, it’s a good idea to ask for the river’s ID and then snap a photo of it.
Also, if you need to get out for any reason, snap a photo of the car’s license plate number. Show them you’re doing this so they understand that you’re on guard, and also you can pretend to talk on your cell phone while driving, too. But usually just making small talk and asking about their family, their hometown, and their favorite futbol (soccer) team will do the trick as well!
Moving to Costa Rica tip: Enroll in the U.S. embassy's STEP program:
The United States State Department also has a program called STEP you may want to log on and register with. https://step.state.gov/step/
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Benefits of Enrolling in STEP:
• Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
• Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
Can you really live in Costa Rica for $1,500 per month?
Sometimes, I feel like I’m spending way too much money living in Costa Rica. There was always something extra or unexpected that strains the budget – a few big nights out with friends, an extra trip to San José, or a couple of charitable donations around town. Surely, I can’t afford this extravagance and I’ll go broke soon!
But then, I look up my bank balance and realize that things are actually just fine. How is that possible? When I lived in the United States, I grew accustomed to stressing about every dollar and always coming up short, so this feels almost too good to be true. How am I managing to live by the beach in beautiful and exotic Costa Rica and still spend way less than I would in the U.S.?
People often ask me how I can afford to live abroad in some of the most beautiful places on earth, so I’d like to share the financial aspect of traveling, to show you that it’s obtainable.
The good news is that it is possible to live a very modest lifestyle for about $1,500 a month in Costa Rica, or $50 a day!
But here's the bad news: While that $1,500 per month goal is obtainable, Costa Rica shouldn’t be considered a “cheap” country to live in. In fact, that number becomes more and more of a stretch with each passing month. But I'm happy to report that it is still possible, IF you budget, sacrifice, live simply, and often like a local "Taco."
First off, there is a HUGE difference between being on vacation and living abroad. That image you have of sitting around on a beach chair all day with a coconut drink in your hand at a luxurious resort? Get that out of your head, because I live as simply and humbly, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy all the benefits of my new home.
Next, you should realize that it's MUCH harder to live inexpensively in popular tourist destination, where vacationers and international residents drive up prices. But remember that if it's possible for a local to do it (and most Ticos do), then you can, too!
Last thing, everyone shouldn’t expect to spend only $1,500 a month or less in Costa Rica. This is just a baseline, or standard of what’s possible if you make the appropriate lifestyle choices and sacrifices. The whole point is that your money will go much further in Costa Rica, offering a better quality of life. But everyone’s budget will differ.
Speaking of which, how much do you spend every month in the United States? If you add up mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, your car and gas, food and clothing, etc., the average budget for one person comes to around $3,200. But for a family, you could easily increase that by 150% or more.
In fact, I just read an article that said 76% of the U.S. population lives paycheck-to-paycheck, despite the fact that the median take-home pay is $51,100. That means most of us spend approximately $4,000 per month per household, and still, we don’t feel like we’re getting ahead or enjoying life enough.
Now, let’s look at my budget in Costa Rica:
One of the biggest advantages of living abroad, not just vacationing, is the savings you get when you rent an apartment. Hotels are expensive, but simple, clean, safe (nothing fancy) accommodations might run $350-$600 a month for one person. Many times, utilities are included (except electric), or it still lands within that price range. It definitely saves to get a two-bedroom place or bigger and get a roommate(s).
If you’re eating out at tourist restaurants most meals, your food budget could easily add up to more than your rent in Costa Rica. But you can save a ton of money staying out of the tourist trap restaurants, where meals might cost you $10-$12 each. Instead, find out where the locals eat - the food is usually great, and a meal will cost you $3-$5. Even better, hit the local markets and stores and cook for yourself, saving even more.
Medical care: $60/month, $2/day
Of course, the cost of medical care can vary widely depending on your health needs and if you keep a U.S. health insurance policy. But there are plenty of serviceable clinics and good doctors in Costa Rica, and even the occasional trip to get medical care of the flu, a sprained ankle, dental work, etc. will be way cheaper than if you paid monthly insurance with a deductible. But play it safe with health insurance and coverage because you’d rather err on the side of caution.
By the way, I once met a Canadian traveler who jumped into a bullfighting ring in Costa Rica during their fiestas (not a good life choice) and was gored badly in the back. An ambulance ride, overnight stay, painkillers, minor surgery, 25 staples and 50 stitches cost him $110!
Local transportation: $90/month, $3/day
You usually don’t need a car when you’re living most places in Costa Rica. I prefer small towns, so I like walking everywhere (it gives me a chance to take in the sites and meet locals.) Or you can utilize cheap transportation like public buses, motorcycle taxis, etc. the locals use for about $1-$2 a ride. I also rent or buy a mountain bike and cycle around to get some exercise and be more mobile.
What entertainment can you afford for $4 per day? Not much...except NATURE; The best entertainment there is!
$30/month/$1 a day
$120 a month, $4/day
That brings us to a daily budget less than $50 a day!
Of course you might spend more on food, less on entertainment, etc. But for less than $1,500 a month, you should be able to live simply in Costa Rica while still enjoying the best parts of life as an expat: the freedom, the beach, the weather, the nature, and the people!
Do you want more valuable tips, hacks, and info on saving money when you move to Costa Rica?
Purchase the Official Expat's Moving to Costa Rica Handbook - it will be the best investment you ever make!
1. It’s ecologically friendly
Costa Rica is considered one of the most ecologically conscious countries in the world, instituting a goal to be carbon neutral way back in 1997 – and coming close these days. In fact, Costa Rica is ranked no. 5 in the world on the Environmental Performance Index, the best country outside of Europe. It’s probably also the no. 1 eco-tourism destination in the world.
2. It has the oldest constitution in Central America
Costa Rica is the longest-standing democracy in Central America, thanks to a national constitution drafted in 1949. This governing document affords many rights and protections to its citizens, allowing Costa Rica to enjoy stable and peaceful growth. Costa Rica consistently ranks the highest of any Latin Nation on the Human Development Index and United Nations Development Program.
3. It’s a country with no army
With their progressive constitution in 1949, Costa Rica decided to ban any armed forces, making it one of only countries in the world without an army, still to this day.
4. A model education system
By investing in education instead of funding an army, Costa Rica now boasts a 96% literacy rate, the highest in Latin America. Their commitment to education has allowed them to attract good skilled jobs and boost income for their citizens. 5. Unmatched natural beauty Costa Rica has not one but two gorgeous coastlines, with more than 800 miles of shoreline and tropical beaches between the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country.
The landmass of present day Costa Rica is the result of volcanic eruptions 75 million years ago – and still is active today. In fact, Costa Rica still has five listed active volcanoes and more than 200 volcanic formations. The most famous of these is Arenal Volcano, an easy day trip from San José. It last erupted in 1968, but it’s now considered safe and you can still enjoy the hot springs at its base.
6. The most diverse wildlife on the planet
There are over 130 species of fish, 220 of reptiles, 1,000 butterflies, 9,000 plants, 20,000 species of spiders and 34,000 species of insects in Costa Rica. That represents 5% of the world’s biodiversity even though it is just about .03% of the earth’s total landmass. Costa Rica is also known for its sloths and turtles, which can be seen in protected habitats and beaches. But if you’re more of a monkey, lizard, or exotic bird lover, Costa Rica will be your favorite place! In fact, the country became the first place in the Americas to ban recreational hunting.
7. Adventure sports galore
Zip lining, sky diving, jumping off waterfalls, repelling, exploring caves, horseback riding, 4×4 runs, jet skiing, and just about every other adventure sport you could imagine are all on the menu in Costa Rica.
8. Unmatched natural beauty
Costa Rica has not one but two gorgeous coastlines, with more than 800 miles of shoreline and tropical beaches between the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country.
9. Protected nature reserves
Costa Rica is on the forefront of environmental conservation, long ago protecting about 25% of their country as national parks. Manuel Antonio National Park on the west coast is the most famous, but Tortuguero National Park and La Amistad International Park are amazing, too.
10. A top surfing destination
Costa Rica is ranked as one of the three best surfing destinations in the world, home to year-round warm water and a unique microclimate that bring consistent offshore winds. Big competitions like the Billabong World Surfing Games are often hosted by Costa Rica, but even beginners can wax up their boards and catch some waves.
To get the full list of 20 Reasons Why Costa Rica is the Coolest Country in the World, grab your copy of Official Expat's Moving to Costa Rica Handbook.
You can also email me any time with questions or just to say hi!
A few tips on culture and etiquette when you move to Costa Rica:
If you’re planning on visiting the beautiful tropical nation of Costa Rica for a vacation - or maybe a more prolonged stay - it’s important you learn about the culture, etiquette, and traditions of the wonderful Ticos and Ticas (we’ll explain that) who live there.
For that reason, I’ve included a detailed chapter on culture, etiquette, and traditions in my Moving to Costa Rica Handbook. But here, I wanted to give you a few quick notes about adapting culturally to life in Costa Rica.
-My greatest hope is that when you live in Costa Rica, you make a genuine effort to learn the local culture and assimilate. Of course you don’t have to pretend to be a Tico (they won’t let you forget that you’re a foreigner!) but, to me, it shows respect that you want to blend in and adopt some Costa Rican ways, finding a happy medium between who you were in your home country and the new, evolved and more worldly person you will become living in Costa Rica.
-I’ve seen far too many expats that move abroad (in many countries - not just Costa Rica), only to refuse to learn the language, refuse to learn the local etiquette, nor adopt any of the customs or traditions.
(They basically sit around and complain about their new host nation.) In my opinion, that is a travesty!
-Every moment you’re in Costa Rica, think of yourself as a guest in someone’s home and act accordingly. By following this rule, you’ll find that you assimilate and blend into life in Costa Rica seamlessly, enhancing your enjoyment and endearing and representing both yourself and the perception of foreigners to all the Ticos you encounter day to day.
-Costa Ricans are known for their laid back, friendly and hospitable ways. They are almost always cordial and welcoming to foreigners, too, often inviting them to family gatherings or dinners.
-Costa Ricans call themselves Ticos and Ticas, a reference to their affinity for adding an “ico” to the end of words, which denotes that something is small or little in a cute way.
-For some people, it’s difficult to learn a second language (myself included), so be prepared to put in the work if you are serious. Keep a notebook and write down new words every night and study for half an hour or an hour every morning and you’ll pick up the basic vocabulary very quickly. These days, there are amazing apps and interactive games you can access on your smart phone to help you learn.
You may think that because so many people speak English, you don’t need to learn Spanish. While it’s true that you can probably get by with only English, especially in tourist areas, it’s a travesty if foreigners don’t make an effort, and reinforces the perception among Ticos that people from the U.S. and maybe Canada are lazy and a little arrogant.
-It’s best to start learning the basics before you arrive – you will never be able to fully immerse yourself in the culture unless you understand that.
-To take your language lessons to the next level, look for a local teacher for some lessons in grammar and how to speak in complete sentences correctly.
-Tico time, “la hora tica” means that people generally arrive 30 minutes late or so to a meeting or any event.
-So, remember to be patient! Things do not move as quickly and efficiently as they do in the U.S. and Canada (and you wanted to move out of that fast-paced rat race!).
-Customer service can be painfully slow and frustrating, especially outside of the cities A simple task could take half of your day, so manage your expectations – there is no sense in being that annoying, frustrated gringo. You WILL have to wait longer, so just accept that and try to cope with respect and understanding.
-Costa Rica has been ranked as the happiest country on earth in yearly polls! Some of that Tico happiness will definitely rub off on you when you live there!
Want more tips on culture, ettiquette, and traditions in Costa Rica?
We have a WHOLE lot more to give you in the Official Expat's Moving to Costa Rica Handbook.
Or you can email me any time with questions or just to say hi!
For the majority of expats and visitors that stay long term in Costa Rica, getting official residency is something that’s not worth the time, money or hassle. That means “living” there as a tourist, not a permanent resident or citizen. That's altogether doable, but it entails a lot of juggling to accommodate the visa situation.
When researching visas and staying in Costa Rica, you’ll notice there is a large gap between fact, rumor, and the blurred lines of what occurs down there every day. For that reason, I suggest doing your research online and from official sources but also, talking to some expats and people who have lived in Costa Rica a while to get insider information.
First, the official word on U.S. citizens getting visas in Costa Rica from the U.S. embassy and its travel site:
This is no longer automatic that the customs worker at the airport or border will give you the full 90 days. In fact, they have been known to ask you how long you are staying for your vacation (it is a tourist visa) and then give you only 10, 15 days, etc. just to cover that period. This is because Costa Rica is trying to stem the prevalence of “perpetual tourists.”
• Americans and Canadians do not need to acquire a visa to enter - you can stay for 90 days as a tourist.
• However, you must have a valid U.S. passport
• Your passport must be valid through the length of your stay (not just upon arrival)
Most countries are now instituting internal measures that mandate visitor passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of departure from the country. That means even if your U.S. passport is good for a few months after you arrive in Costa Rica, you will likely be turned away.
• Make sure your passport is in good physical condition – they will not honor if it is too damaged
• You must present a round trip ticket or proof of travel to another country upon entry
• Immigration is allowed but not required to allow residency/travel within the country for up to 90 days
• If you overstay your visa, you will be charged a fine of up to $100 USD for every month you overstay
• Most schools will help you acquire a student visa if you are studying abroad
• Any airline is allowed to require you to present proof of $100 monthly income for the time you remain in Costa Rica
• Most countries (North America, Europe) require a renewal of a tourist visa every 90 days (some Central American countries require renewal every 30 days)
So with only a 90-day visa, how do most travelers and expats stay long term in Costa Rica?
That’s where “border runs” come into play, or as they’re often casually referred to, “the border shuffle.”
U.S. citizens, Canadians, and other foreigners staying on tourist visas usually just head overland to the neighboring border of Nicaragua to the north or Panama to the south. There, they can cross the border, wait a little bit (usually just long enough to get lunch and a beer before getting back in the long line!) and come right back into Costa Rica, renewing their visa for another 90 days.
Of course, once you enter Nicaragua or Panama you’re welcome to stay and visit for as long as you want, or other travelers have the resources to fly out of Costa Rica to a different country for a vacation.
But make no mistake, this system of crossing the border and then coming right back into Costa Rica is discouraged by Tico authorities. Although the “border shuffle” is inconvenient, time-consuming, and pretty sweaty, it usually goes without a hitch IF you are careful and know what you’re doing.
But there could be more stipulations based on Costa Rican visa requirements:
• According to the Migración y Extranjería, (the Costa Rican immigration department), there is technically no minimum period of time that you have to remain outside the country before reentering
• However, there are plenty of stories from expats about having been solicited for a bribe, denied entry if they do not meet the 90 day requirement, or they try to reenter the country the same day
• Immigrant officials are being more strict with enforcing higher fines for expats
• New laws state that you cannot renew a tourist visa by traveling to the same country twice. (a.k.a. you cannot go to Nicaragua twice in a row, you will have to go to Nicaragua then to Panama after another 90 days.) After two border runs, tourists will have to leave Costa Rica for a minimum of 15 days in order to renew a tourist visa again
• But instead of traveling to another country to renew a tourist visa, a foreigner can go to any immigration location and renew another 90 days for $100. Offices have recently been in San José, but will soon be available at international airports, border posts, ports, marinas and other locations.”
• Tourists are not allowed to work in Costa Rica, but many do so illegally. This puts you at risk of being deported! (We’ll cover a lot more about working later on.)
But there are plenty of foreigners getting scammed, robbed, and paying unnecessarily at the borders. Touts and pickpockets abound, but there are also poor but honest workers willing to carry your bags or expedite paperwork.
I recommend going along with another expat or foreigner that knows the lay of the land and has done border runs before, or sometimes social clubs, community groups, or even bars organize border runs where they provide comfortable transportation.
If you want a real life account of the chaos and confusion at the Las Penas border crossing in northwestern Costa Rica (about 2 hours from the main city of Liberia in Guanacaste,) check out this article I wrote for the Huffington Post:
The Border You’ve Never Heard About: http://ow.ly/lO158
Citizenship and Permanent Residency
Once you start your new life in Costa Rica, your friends back home will be so impressed when you tell them that you live in the beautiful land of pura vida. You might even want to apply for citizenship (or permanent residency) in Costa Rica to make it official!
While citizenship is a viable and smart option for many expats, it isn’t a decision to take lightly. In fact, applying for residency in Costa Rica can actually be a very long, arduous, and frustrating (not to mention expensive!) process for foreigners.
For some, like retirees, people who know they want to live there permanently and open a business, or foreigners who wish to marry a Tico or Tica and start a family, residency will be the best path. But for others, I’ve also seen it’s nothing more than a very entailed way to legitimize their move to Costa Rica, wasting a lot of time and money in the process.
Therefore, do your research, talk to other expats that live there, and consider the pros and cons of all your options before jumping into the citizenship process.
Here are some tips to help you:
• First off, it’s important to understand that there’s a big difference between citizenship and residency in Costa Rica
• Most people from North America/Europe will not qualify for citizenship
• For those wanting to live the normal expat lifestyle having residency is sufficient under the law
• However, that also depends on what category of residency you fall into when you apply (different categories place different restrictions)
• You can stay perpetually in Costa Rica on a tourist visa, but the government is increasingly cracking down on re-entry/exits for North Americans and Europeans, and you can be fined for not having your paperwork in order
• It’s also critical to understand that you can keep your United States citizenship, so you don’t have to renounce the U.S or give up all the benefits of possibilities of living there again. (This is probably the case for Canada and other countries, but check first to confirm before you decide anything)
Permanent residency allows you to:
• Apply if you marry a Costa Rican citizen, or if you have a Costa Rican child
• If not, you can apply after three years for non-permanent residency status, which will take at least a year to process
• Costa Rican officials will say that you do not need to hire a lawyer, but the reality is that navigating the process alone is near impossible, especially for those who are not fluent in Spanish
Here are the various ways to go about getting your residency:
You can apply for residency through a family member or spouse, but you have to be willing to prove cohabitation once a year for a period of three years.
If you are a retiree, you are free to get residency in Costa Rica if you’re able to prove a pension of at least $1,000 USD per month.
Self-employed business people: in order to qualify for this category you have to prove an income of at least $2,500 USD per month.
In order to qualify for this category you need to either:
• Have invested at least $200,000 USD in a project that has a social benefit (this includes something that generates employment)
• Own a home that is worth at least $200,000 USD
• These can be difficult to qualify for
• You must prove that you are filling a position that a Costa Rican is not qualified for or incapable of doing
• An employer must sponsor you
• There are separate residency categories for foreign press, athletes, and technicians
Here is what you need to begin the application process:
• Write a letter addressed to the head of the immigration
department stating the reasons you are applying for residency, complete name, nationality, profession (if applicable), name and nationality of parents, a fax number to receive notifications from the Immigration Department, date and signature
• Notarized birth certificate stamped by the Costa Rican foreign ministry
• Letter from the (home country) police department stating that you have no criminal record for the last three years, stamped by the Costa Rican foreign ministry
• Fingerprints are taken by the Public Security Ministry in Desamparados
• Three recent passport photos
• Passport, and also a photocopy of each page
• Certification of registration with the embassy of the home country
• Receipt that proves you have applied for insurance from the Costa Rica public health system
• Receipt showing you have paid all the necessary taxes for the application process
• If the above documents (letters, etc.) are done in another language, you must have them accompanied by Spanish translations from an official translator
Note: this varies slightly depending on which residency category you fall
• If you are a rentista (living off investment income), you can either provide proof of $2,500 monthly income
• Or you can deposit a minimum of $150,000 in a Costa Rican bank
Other notes on establishing residency in Costa Rica:
• Both retirees and self-employed businesspeople have to remain in the country at least four months per year
• They can claim a spouse and dependents under 18 years of age
• They cannot work as an employee (i.e. take a job away from a local), but they can own a company and receive dividends
• If you fall under the investor category by investing $200,000 in a business, you are entitled to income and dividends from that project
• Investors can NOT claim a spouse or dependents under 18
• If you use a work visa, (aka are a company director,) your company must employ a minimum number of locals in accordance with the labor laws
• This requires financial statements of proof certified by an accountant
• Worker must stay in Costa Rica for at least half the year, and may not claim a spouse or dependents but can collect income from the work
Getting citizenship as a foreigner (someone who was not born in Costa Rica):
There are only three ways to become a Costa Rican citizen:
• Descent: where at least one parent is a Costa Rican citizen
• Naturalization: if you are Spanish or Latin American you can apply
after 5 years of residence in Costa Rica
If you are any other nationality, you can apply after 7 years of residence
• Marriage: if you marry a Costa Rican citizen you can apply after 2
Resources for Assistance:
• Association of Residents of Costa Rica
• Private firms/individuals - the United States embassy lists some English-speaking attorney recommendations.
I’m sure you have a whole lot more questions, and all of them will be answered in The Official Expat’s Moving to Costa Rica Handbook.
Or you can start with the free guide, 50 Facts About Moving to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is a traveler’s paradise, as it offers an opportunity to visit amazing places and go through tropical adventures at reasonable student-friendly prices. Costa Rica is the land of everything you have dreamed of, from lush sandy beaches to tropical forests, mountains, volcanoes and vibrant cities! In this country, the climate is perfect all year long: dry season lasts here from November to April and moderate wet from May to October. It is also one of the greenest countries on Earth, therefore it will become a wonderful place for travelers who admire nature.
Are you a student, but all you dream is not about editing thesis official site, but about a cheap journey for students in Costa Rica? Would you like to have a cheap trip there? No problem, because the only thing you need is to plan your daily budget correctly.
In Costa Rica, the subequatorial climate is dominant. Despite the fact that the country's territory is rather small, it is characterized by a huge variety of weather conditions. For example, there are frosts and fogs in the highland regions. The central part of the country is called "the territory of eternal spring", where relatively stuffy and hot weather is preserved all year round.
The best period for all inclusive resorts Costa Rica is winter and spring. The beginning of the high season does not mean that there is no rain. Accordingly, the low season begins in May, when the amount of precipitation increases at times.
If you would like to buy a tour for the winter period, it is better to plan your holiday on Costa on the Pacific coast in advance. Here, the Costa Rica vacation packages will be the best choice! According to many tourists who have been here, we can conclude that winter is the season when riding on Costa Rica is behind the most vivid and diverse emotions.
Here you will find a lot of open-air entertainment: surfing, rafting, hiking tours.
You will get a wonderful experience and enjoy breathtaking landscapes - Costa Rica is not for nothing called "Rich Coast". If you travel and try to save money, here are some tips on how to do it.
Tips for a budget trip to Costa Rica:
# 1 Catch the "green season"
If you are not against some kind of rain, then you might want to go to Costa Rica during the "green" season, which lasts from May to November. During the rainy season, prices are lower here, and rainforests bloom. And, of course, this is the best time to go rafting.
Beaches on the coast are sandy, and the sand is made of a variety of shades - from white and gold to silver and even black. In the south of the Pacific coast are two resort areas - Jaco and Punta Leon. The beaches of Jaco are famous for their nightlife and are suitable for surfing. On the Atlantic Ocean, near the Puerto Limon, the beaches of Portete and Bonita are popular.
# 2 Stay overnight in hostels
In Costa Rica, hostels are incredibly cheap, and you can stay in the capital of the country of San Jose for less than 10 Euro per night. It will help you to save more money for sightseeing and other entertainment. In addition, many hostels will allow you to rent their tent when you go camping, so do not be afraid to ask!
# 3 Change money
This way of exchanging money will help you to save on currency conversions. You will need about 25-45 euro per day for a budget trip.
# 4 Eat Local Food
Beans and rice are very economical options. Family canteens serve traditional cuisine for 4 - 7 Euros per meal. It is much cheaper than tourist restaurants, so if you’d like to eat cheaply, then eat where local people get their meals.
# 5 Take bus to get to places
Traveling by bus from one city to another will cost you only about 2 Euro. If you are willing to drive away, it is less than 20 Euros to drill the whole country.
We wish you a wonderful vacation at low trip to Costa Rica price! Book the most affordable hostels and save money for your future travels!
Robert Everett is a Canadian famous traveling coach, journalist and a host of the popular Canadian TV-show “Bonjour du monde!”. Due to this famous show, he had a visit to 27 countries. Every Sunday Robert Everett publishes interesting traveling tips for camping.
With all of the emails I get from people thinking about moving to Costa Rica, one of the three most common questions is always about healthcare.
It’s not hard to fathom why (they’re usually from the U.S.A. – not Canada, of course) with health insurance premiums and prescription drug prices skyrocketing in the ever-more confusing and ineffective system of medical care in the states.
So what can you really expect when it comes to healthcare if and when you relocate to Costa Rica?
The great news is that Costa Rica has a top notch system of medical care with plenty of options for expats, from utilizing their state-run socialized system for residents, opting for affordable private healthcare insurance, paying out-of-pocket, or mixing in a combination of U.S. and travel insurance coverage.
You should be encouraged by the quality of Costa Rican medicine, too. It’s no coincidence that Costa Ricans are some of the healthiest people in the world, with higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates than those in the United States. In fact, the World Health Organization frequently ranks Costa Rica well ahead of the United States and all other Central American countries for healthcare.
The amazing thing is that Costa Rica earns all of these accolades for its medical care even though healthcare spending is 87% less per capita than in the U.S.!
So as an expat, resident or just visitor to Costa Rica, you’ll enjoy great quality care for surprisingly reasonable prices.
I’m sure you have specific questions, and all of them will be answered in The Official Expat’s Moving to Costa Rica Handbook, including:
To find out everything you need to know about medical treatment, insurance, and healthcare while visiting or living in Costa Rica, purchase my full handbook.
But if you want to save some money, check out the most popular sections from the Handbook for only $9.95.