Retiring in Costa Rica on an expat budget

Retiring in Costa Rica on an expat budget

Retiring in Costa Rica on an expat budget

Formerly, Costa Rica was a closed book for retirees and entrepreneurs hailing from anywhere but the USA, but nowadays it’s expats from many other world countries who’re considering the move.

Whether it’s for expat retirement or starting a small business, Costa Rica has much to attract would-be incomers, although for many years only US citizens seemed to favour it as a destination. For retirees, it’s more expensive than many other similar locations in the region, but its quality of life is still accessible to those not receiving huge pensions. Living as do the locals is easy, and the resulting lifestyle can be just as rewarding as that on far more money.

Planning your expat lifestyle to get as much as possible out of a less generous monthly spend starts with accommodation and the choice of a cheaper area in which to live. This decision will have an impact on all your transactions, as the average wage on the island is low. Shopping for groceries and other necessities is far cheaper in the less fashionable districts, especially if there’s a local market within walking distance. Even regular supermarkets tend to drop their prices on weekdays, although if you’re looking for Western-style goodies you’ll need to pay the price.

Public transportation is very affordable, usually in the form of buses going just about everywhere on the island, and ride-sharing services and taxis are cheaper than in the home country. Cars are very expensive due to high import duties, making going without a major saving. If you’re in need of medications, generic drugs are the way forward as, again due to import duties, the originals are very expensive, and even more savings can be made by avoiding upscale shopping malls.

Wi-Fi and WhatsApp are the answer to internet access, with most Costa Ricans using WhatsApp, especially as it includes free international calls. Stocking up with cosmetics, beauty products and clothes before you leave the home country is a wise move as all are costly on the island. The locals are genuinely friendly, but showing too much generosity can make you a target for the wrong people, and being persuaded to invest in a high interest scam is the best way to lose everything.

Trusting someone because they speak good English is a very bad mistake, and asking for recommendations before visiting a lawyer, doctor, dentist or other professionals is the sensible way to get good service.

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