8 Jan 2018
It’s easy to understand why Costa Rica visitors think about moving here. It’s a beautiful country, with friendly people and affordable living. What’s not to like? However, it pays to remember that life here is different. If you’re thinking about the ex-pat life in a tropical paradise, read on for our top five tips on preparing for a move to Costa Rica.
1. Visit often
You should visit Costa Rica at different times of the year. Make sure to visit during the green season, which is May to November in most areas of the country. September and October receive the most rainfall, which can make for cozy, lazy days. Dry season, of course, can be busier in the beach areas, but that’s a lot of fun too. There are always opportunities to make new friends!
Think about whether you need to be in the thick of things or would prefer a quieter life in a more rural area. And finally, be sure to talk to other ex-pats during your visits (there are plenty around at Los Sueños Resort!) and read everything you can find about living in Costa Rica.
2. Permanent, full time, or part time residency
You’ll need to decide if you want to live in Costa Rica year-round or seasonally. You can stay three months on an ordinary tourist visa, but will need to leave the country for at least 72 hours every quarter. This is a great way to get a feel for the Costa Rica expatriate lifestyle. It’s also a great way to enjoy the best of both worlds; many like to escape the wintery freeze of the US and head for Costa Rica where it’s summer time November through April.
If you decide to become a permanent resident, living in Costa Rica full time, it’s best to hire a lawyer and assemble the required documents before you make the move; you’ll save yourself time and angst. You should be able to handle everything through your local Costa Rica embassy.
3. Money matters
Before you take the plunge, set up a local bank account. Paperwork is king in CR and it pays to dot every “I” and cross every “t” exactly as required. Costa Rican banks are big on knowing their customers to comply with stringent anti-money-laundering laws. Your best bet is to find an international bank. Ask the attorney you hired to help you navigate the red tape or recommend an accountant to help you figure it all out.
4. Buying property
There are many beautiful properties in or near Los Sueños Resort; options range from luxurious condos to vast private villas. Our real estate team at HRG can help you find the perfect home for your needs and lifestyle.
You’ll need to understand the legalities and realities of owning property in Costa Rica. We can also help you find an attorney and get through all the hurdles (don’t worry; they aren’t high!). Of course, at a master-planned community such as Los Sueños Resort, you can be sure you’re dealing with professionals.
5. Learn some Spanish.
You don’t have to be fluent, you just need to hold simple conversations, ask for everyday items, and generally follow the conversation. Most Ticos are more than willing to help you out with the language if you stumble and they’ll appreciate the fact you’re making the effort to speak their language. There are a number of programs that can help you learn; either online or in a Spanish class here in Costa Rica. The most important thing is, though, to practice.
If you’re seeing a theme to our tips, it’s that you should take your time. Life in Costa Rica moves more slowly, but things still get done and you may find that buying property here and moving down to be one of the most positive thing you’ve done in your lifetime.