When looking to retire abroad, there are few countries in the Western Hemisphere that can compare with Costa Rica, especially for Americans. Although the country is Spanish speaking, Costa Rica has become one of the easiest and most welcoming countries in Latin America for United States citizens and companies. With a stable government, and pro-American attitude and special benefits for retirees and other desirable immigrants, Costa Rica should be at the top of the list for Americans looking to move abroad.
Although popular with retirees, Costa Rica also has a dyanimic economy for people still interested in working with many major American corporations opening major operations there. The old days of a banana and coffee exporting are largely over as Costa Rica has redefined itself as the “Silicon Valley of Latin America” with many major technology firms maintaining major operations in the country such as Abbot Laboratories, Acer, Continental Airways, General Electric, Intel Corporation and Microsoft. Not surprisingly this also means that Costa Rica is one of the best “wired” countries in Latin America with a well developed Internet infrastructure – largely dominated by Informática Internacional – which means it is easy to keep in touch with people elsewhere or to work and play online in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica also has a sizable American community and a lot of resources available for people from the United States. Much of this is spearheaded by the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM, www.amcham.co.cr ). AMCHAM not only helps with business matters – which as noted above are vibrant – but also with many other services required by Americans in Costa Rica. For example, if you want to buy property in the country, you will need to hire an attorney to represent you before the Costa Rican authorities and AMCHAM can help you find a reputable one. Further, they provide a whole range of other resources and activities for American expats in Costa Rica, only some of which are done in conjunction with the United States Embassy and other expats groups in the country.
Costa Rica is also very liberal when it comes to owning real estate. GFor example, there is no citizenship requirement to buy and own real estate in the country, which is somewhat unusual. There is a degree of bureaucracy involved such as doing an official title search through the National Registry and an environmental impact study via the Ministry of the Environment and Energy and so on, but the attorney should be able to handle most of this for you. The only real restrictions relate to physical occupancy (you have to actually live in the house) and a fifty meter limit from the beach if you are aiming for seaside real estate. However, if your vision runs more to the haciendas (ranches), there are fewer restrictions.
All said, Costa Rica is a wonderful place to buy real estate, though of course the prices differ widely. If you want to live in the provinces of San Jose, Heredia, Cartago, or Alajuela you should expect to pay considerably more than if you opt for the less popular provinces of Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limon (all of which have beaches).