Expat Exchange
Puntarenas Beach, Costa Rica
Puntarenas Beach, Costa Rica
Puntarenas Beach, Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jul 27, 2022

Summary: Moving to Costa Rica: Expats, retirees and digital nomads talk about everything you need to know before moving to Costa Rica.

Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance

What do I need to know before moving to Costa Rica?

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When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Costa Rica, they said:

"Personally, I would advise people to rent for an extended time to make sure the area is what they need it to be, then purchase an existing home, where they can see it finished, the price won't suddenly escalate or leave them with a list of uncompleted tasks, that you will be responsible for," commented one expat who made the move to Costa Rica.

"Very safe Condominium complexes are everywhere so you have many options that have surrounding walls and 24 hour security. Some have restaurants, pools and gyms. Many are furnished and I recommend reading the contract thoroughly. I also recommend taking a very detailed video showing condition of the unit including close ups of any damage to existing furnishings. Carefully read the fine print and if the furnishings are not adequate stipulate all changes in the contract before signing. If its a long term lease consider hiring an attorney. It might be worth it," remarked another expat in Santa Ana, Costa Rica.

"ESCAZU!!! Even our local Tico friends (who were all educated in the states) and have lived all over CR would agree. CR is booming right now, at least for professionals in law, medicine, computer science/network administration, & architecture/engineering. Our best friend here has to hire software engineers from India because CR workers are so expensive and doing so well here. This is just our opinion of course. For example, one of our son's opinions when he visits us in Escazu is disgust. He thinks why leave the states to just live in an expensive, English speaking, mini-California suburb. He leaves as quickly as he can to stay in the rural & beach areas (he luckily speaks fluent Spanish) to escape our lifestyle. He could never afford to live in Escazu as a musician/artist. Final note and a plug for Outlier Legal and the founder attorney Rafael Valverde who went to law school in the states. Do not make the move without reading his website articles at the very least & he and his team provided enormous support (and still do) in dealing with the puzzling and very unpredictable bureaucracy that is CR," said another expat in Escazu.

"Do lots of experiential travel and due diligence. It is easy to get rose colored glasses because Costa Rica is so beautiful and the people are so nice. Gringo's are viewed as wealthy and easy targets for getting taken advantage of, plus the legal system is a jungle as well. Do your work upfront, get lots of advice from others and reference everyone, even if you think they are honorable. If you want to enjoy Costa Rica, don't learn by trial and fire or it will taint your experience and enjoyment," remarked another expat who made the move to Paquera.

"Spend time in the area and get to know it's full time residents. Participate in community activities, fundraisers, church activities if you are inclined. Eat at the local restaurants, shop locally, go to the local farmers market. Visit your prospective neighborhood at various times of the day especially at night to see if crime is a problem or noise issues. A community feels very different when you spend time with its full time residents and not tourists. You can truly gauge the area determining if it's a good fit for you, your family and your lifestyle. Get an honest lawyer to determine if the house you are interested in has a clean title (and the same for raw land). Get references for doctors and medical facilities in the area. In a nutshell, tourist activities are fun but it's far from reality of every day life. Think about what your day entails in your home country and perform the same activities in your prospective desired area," explained one expat living in Playa Hermosa de Jaco, Costa Rica.

"It is a good idea to rent before you buy. Talk to the neighbors. There are little pockets of problems that you could avoid by asking folks for their opinion. The neighbors may also know where there is a great house available that you missed in your search. Last piece of advice, get up and move," said another expat in San Marcos, Tarrazú.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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How do I find a place to live in Costa Rica?

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We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"On one visit, we took a side trip to Costa Rica to explore the beaches of Guanacaste. When we drove into Tamarindo, it felt a California beach town with a nice vibe. Over the next couple of years, we took a few trips to Playa Flamingo and Tamarindo to further explore the area and to look at condos for sale. We bought an ocean view condo in Tamarindo a couple of years before we retired, and then moved there full time after retiring in May 2013 (age 61-62). We liked the beach and the availability of a variety of restaurants and stores in Tamarindo, and easy walking access in town," said another expat in Tamarindo.

"Yes, finding the right location to live in, can be more important that finding the right home. Many expats want to live at the beach...especially from the snowy north...until they find that the heat just doesn't work for them. So, if they have purchased a home there, they could be stuck with it. So, suggest you rent for an extended time period so that you truly check out the different neighbourhoods, learn where the bus routes are, where the roosters start the earliest and the karaoke bars are located... It is said by many, that it is very easy to buy, but often very hard to sell. Many say that between 50-60% of the expats, return home within 3-4 years. Often broke. Costa Rica is no longer a cheap place to live. However, it can be a great place to live, if you can afford it," remarked another expat who made the move to Costa Rica.

"We spent 4 years staying for short time in a number of areas. We recognize CA prices are not reflective of Florida or Texas prices. Adjust accordingly. 3 choices: The beach areas: Ridiculously hot & damp; humid so A/C runs non-stop, Where as in Escazu we rarely need it as the temperatures in the Central Valley at 4,000 feet rarely go above 80 or below 63. Rarely use A/C but if we do electricity is crazy cheap in CR unlike CA. The water is great here too, No need anywhere in CR for bottled water like CA. We still love to visit the beach which is only 2 hours away (Pacific side) but just not live there. Central Valley: 3 choices Heredia (nice but a little too rural), Santa Anna (a little too hot & too small, (Although the golf course is amazing there!), and the best in our mind Escazu. The perfect location in Escazu is anywhere close to the Costa Rica Country Club (no we could never afford to belong). Five years ago, we stayed in La Sabana (loved it) first as our home base and after many stays all around CR returned and bought a beautiful condo with high security in Escazu. The cost was 20% of what our condo was in San Diego and 4 times the size! We can walk (or a truly short drive) to so many restaurants, large supermarkets, shops and even two great movie theatres showing films in English! Food was a big worry, yet in Escazu we can buy the same foods we enjoy in the states (and lots of great Italian restaurants!). And virtually no mosquitoes at this elevation unlike the beaches! Also, best hospital in central America only 2 miles away (CIMA, JCHO accredited, many English-speaking docs). Ditto for dentistry. All much cheaper than the states. If you do not know any Spanish (like us) and now retired in your late 60’s, learning a new language can be stressful, Hence Escazu. Our culture shock has been minimal which has been a big relief, but we like the challenges of learning Spanish, & have learned the patience it takes (Tico Time) like spending 3 hours in a bank just to get a new debit card, which stopped working for some unknown reason after a month, needing an attorney to buy a car, etc. But some things are very fast like walking 3 blocks to our internet/TV provider (by the way great hi-speed) and getting service sent to our condo, multiple times, within the hour! And everyone is soooo happy and helpful! The politest most respectful drivers we have ever seen. We have traveled all over the world and have never experienced such absolute courtesy on such a grand scale. Certainly not in the states. And we have made a number of Tico professional friends here, been to their homes (very welcoming) and they have been nothing but helpful, sincere and trustworthy. They truly are the happiest people in the world! By the way we have spent a lot of time in Mexico (my brother lives there) and that is a dangerous unpredictable place compared to CR, but certainly cheaper as is Belize (truly scary)," explained one expat living in Escazu, Costa Rica.

"I traveled all over Costa Rica after purchasing a home in Ostional and not being happy. I stayed in San Jose, Arenal, and along the beach towns of the Pacific coast. I then went to an area that was not revealed in all of the social media and publications to see what it was like and stayed at an all inclusive in Tambor. This area was like a diamond in the rough to me. So, I "stumbled" upon it, just traveling around and getting to know Costa Rica," said another expat in Paquera.

"Our first home in Costa Rica (CR) was strictly by word of mouth. We had lived in the area for a few months and told just as many people we trusted that we were looking. In just a few months time, we looked at many properties. We got to know the area very well by renting so we knew the neighborhoods we liked and knew what a good price was to pay. We were in no hurry as we were renting at the time so we didn't appea anxious or desperate to the seller. The purchasing process was a breeze. After 8 years in that same location and home, we decided we wanted a quieter area and we finally were able to realize our original dream of having a water view property. 17 years total in CR ... it's working for us," added another expat who made the move to Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"It's cheaper to live a little ways outside the city so location was influenced by that. There is also less crime outside the city. I found my apartment by asking around and doing some walking. There won't always be a sign up so, if it looks available, ask," explained one expat living in San Marcos, Tarrazú, Costa Rica.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Costa Rica?

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"Condo with high security. However we never feel fearful walking at night to our favorite restaurants or store as their are guards everywhere. This is true pretty much everywhere we have been in CR. We have always felt very safe (unlike dealing we the herds of homeless drug addicts in CA)," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Escazu.

"I live in a luxury home minutes from the beach, ferry, and a multitude of activities and shopping and dining. This is a typical expat home and lifestyle on an upper scale," commented one expat who made the move to Paquera.

"We live in single family home in a remote and mountainous area. The other homes in the neighborhood are the same. However, the beach closest to us is primarily condos due to the proximity to the water. Being a popular beach town, the condos are privately owned and very popular seasonal rentals," remarked another expat in Playa Hermosa de Jaco, Costa Rica.

"Housing can be very cheap, especially if you rent out a room from a Costa Rican family. While the family's home (bathroom especially) may not be of the same type that a middle-class American is used to, it is the best way to get to know your new home country's people. If you want, you could even rent out a room at a backpackers' type of hotel or hostel for cheap rates, too. I've stayed in simple beach-front hotels for US $9 a night," said another expat in San Jose.

"I live in a small home with a Costa Rican friend who was raised in Southern California, and If I told you the price there would be a million people moving here tomorrow. Let it suffice to say that a three bedroon home on a 1,000 square meter lot can be had for $250.00, and in some places for less," remarked another expat who made the move to City of Guapiles, County of Pococi, Province of Limon.

"Most expats live in condos or houses with small gardens and enormous fences with barbered wire," explained one expat living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

What is the average cost of housing in Costa Rica?

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If you are thinking about moving to Costa Rica, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Condo's in Escazu, especially close to either Avenida Escazu or the San Jose Country Club also start at $ 500,000 and many head into the millions now. An older studio (70 sq. meters/800 sq. feet) just sold for $270,000 in Avenida Escazu...," explained one expat living in Costa Rica.

"Totally depends on many factors. Are you looking to rent or buy? How many bedrooms? City or country? Altitude, I.e., beach or mountains? Seasonal only, or long term? Hot water or not? Window screens or not? With Ticos or Gringoes? AC or not? Furnished or not? Close to hospitals and good medical or remote? Want views? What kind? Utilities included or not? Finished or under construction? Will you have a vehicle, and will it have 4WD? Are you ok with public transport (it’s excellent). Pets? You can see there are many possible answers to your question! We chose mountains with Nicoya Peninsula views, good infrastructure, home built to American specs with quality materials by reputable builder, hot water, screens, electric gate, and all in a Tico community of great diversity. City is only 3 kms away over the mountain. Pulperia up the street where we all hang out to watch futball! And we drive a 21 yr old SUV. Love Costa Rica," said another expat in Costa Rica.

"Much much lower both in terms of cost of buying and maintenance (e.g. electricity, internet much cheaper, water, etc.). Also housekeeper, for example is only 3,000 colones an hour ($4.67)! Ridiculous! We doubled her "salary" from the start. And monthly condominium fee are only $ 400/month vs. $800-1200/month in CA. Wow," added another expat who made the move to Escazu.

"Housing costs are about the same as The States however, the taxes and expenses related are less except luxury taxes. VAT taxes are high but you can easily avoid them if you choose to manage your lifestyle," explained one expat living in Paquera, Costa Rica.

"Our housing costs are lower than in the states. Taxes are very inexpensive in CR and the taxes in the states substantially higher. Private home insurance is less expensive in Costa Rica from our experience. It is very hard to determine the average cost of housing. In this area, the closer the location to the beach, the higher the price. Direct waterfront may cost well over $500,000 to the millions depending on amenities. However in a lower profile condo building with less amenities, you can absolutely find something at half that price. Knowing the market is really key here and return on investment must be weighed in if you plan to rent the unit, seasonally or long term," said another in Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"Much, much lower. I wouldn't pay more than $300 per month in rent for a house in this area," explained one expat who made the move to San Marcos, Tarrazú.

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Should I buy or rent a home in Costa Rica?

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If you have not spent a lot of time in Costa Rica, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"I am renting an apartment for now. $800/month not including utilities. I would like to buy eventually. The process was done via a friend so that was helpful, but, to pay in cash to avoid taxes is a challenge. I have no idea how I am to pay the bills for electricity, water, cable, etc," commented one expat who made the move to Grecia.

"I'm renting. It's not difficult once you are in country. I rented an Airbnb first and went from there. All you need to do is find local contacts. Facebook has a page for each area. It's easiest to find a rental there. And make sure you have a contract checked by an attorney," remarked another expat in San Isidro de Heredia, Costa Rica.

"We have bought and sold several properties in Costa Rica. We had the help of an attorney and it was simple. Properties are bought in the name of corporations. One thing to remember though, it is always easy to buy, but not always easy to sell. The market is SLOW...nothing like the fast turning market in the US. Most people pay cash as financing is a nightmare," said another expat in Escazu.

"We purchased our own home. This was an easy process as you do not need to be a resident to own property in Costa Rica. However, I would advise anyone whether renting or purchasing property to hire a reputable attorney to assist with the process," remarked another expat who made the move to Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"I rent because I do not want to be tied down to a piece of property. Also property is expensive. My rental agreement was easy to understand, only about 4 pages (2 of them inventory of furnishings). I negotiated the terms from 12 months to 6 and the rent amount. It was not difficult at all," explained one expat living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

What should I pack when moving to Costa Rica?

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We asked people living in Costa Rica to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"Nothing as we travel back to the US at least 4 times a year, but bring little back to CR. One of the amazing good surprises is that CR has pretty much everything that we can get in the US, for the same price of less (unlike what you read in the forums). That is why we decided against moving our car, furniture, etc. and instead buying here and bringing 4 large suitcases per month of personal items from the US. for a year (for free if you fly Southwest). The caveat is we are use to CA costal prices (now $6 a gallon for gas & 900-1000 per square foot to obtain a dwelling). Even our replacement used car here was the almost exact price as it would have been at home. (understand used car prices have rocketed higher in the states and COVID hit families hard here in CR - hence a great deal)," commented one expat who made the move to Escazu.

"I wish I had brought my small appliances like bread maker, ice cream maker and deep fryer. I wish I had left my books, formal dresses and jacket at home," remarked another expat in Paquera, Costa Rica.

"The items I wish I had brought to Costa Rica - or maybe I should say as an expat living in Costa Rica I wish I had brought more of - are bed linens, pillows and bedcovering (lightweight as it's warm at the beaches), another set of kitchen pots/pans, a quality sound system for the outside, exercise clothes and quality footwear for hiking. Items that I wish I had left at home: We moved to Costa Rica 17 years ago and did not use a container service. We basically packed our goods up in plastic containers for the airline and moved in that manner. Items that I wish I'd left at home are not many to mention. I probably bought too many clothes. (Being a woman, that's what we do!) I have clothing for colder climates but have never used them being at the beach. By using the airlines (and the help of friends too!) as a means of transportation, everything was scrutinized prior to packing as far as if we really "needed" it in Costa Rica (CR) so I'm proud to say we didn't bring much that we are now regretting," said another expat in Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"Should have brought more: tennis shoes - lots of walking on lots of dirt/rock roads. Contact Solution - very expensive here. Electronics - cameras & laptops here cost double the US price. Should have left all formal clothes in the US," remarked another expat who made the move to San Marcos, Tarrazú.

"I'll give the tip that it's always a good idea to bring at least one professional/business attire type of outfit and perhaps formal wear. Costa Ricans ("Ticos") take a bit of pride on appearance and do not appreciate the fresh off the beach, "dirty gringo" look of most tourists if you are applying for a job, etc," explained one expat living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"More Sage, More Cayanne Pepper, and valid phone cards (ICE which is the phone company is a monopoly here)," said another expat in City of Guapiles, County of Pococi, Province of Limon.

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What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Costa Rica?

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We asked people in Costa Rica if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:

"Oh my, embarrassing and humorous blunders! After 17 years in Costa Rica, I am still making such errors. Very lucky for me, Costa Ricans are unfailingly patient and have a quick sense of humor. Most of my blunders are language based. (Remember, learn that Spanish and avoid the embarrassment!) I've ordered aqua con leche (water with milk) instead of coffee with milk.. I've ordered more than one "mystery meat" at the butcher! Some meals at a local soda (Costa Rican local restaurant) resembles nothing of which I thought I'd ordered. I've also tried to master the language and having thought I'd done so, realise that I know nothing! Back to the drawing board and more self-taught Spanish lessons. It is a way of life," remarked another expat in Playa Jaco , Costa Rica.

"During the dry season the water can get turned off at any time. One time I had water, but my neighbors did not. My neighbor and his family stood below my stairs and asked me a question. Using my translator, I believed he asked me if his sister could use my shower? everyone was smiling as I replied. "Yes, of course" The neighbor left and said she would return in a few hours. I quickly went upstairs and cleaned my bathroom and shower. The sister did not return much to my surprise until the next day the sister showed up with all her cleaning supplies. My neighbor actually asked if his sister could clean for me. I thought this was so funny, but declined. My apartment is tiny and the bathroom was already clean. Beware of what you agree to," said another expat in Mal Pais.

"No, other than attempting to make sense of their monetary denotations and being ripped off at stores by knowing and unethical employees. Why? Because to them I'm a gringo," remarked another expat who made the move to San Rafael.

"sure I did. but I didn't realize it til way after I would do those things. But they were all very minor and I think Ticos are a bit accepting of our social blunders," explained one expat living in Parrita, Costa Rica.

"Was dating a Tico - seriously - and he told me when I moved in with him, he could let go of his cleaning lady. I responded that if I moved in with him I would bring my cook/cleaning lady with me! The man and I broke up soon thereafter," said another expat in Quebradas.

"I did use the word "caliente" (hot) in a way that I rather not explain. It was awkward. In Chilean Spanish caliente means one thing and one thing only," added another expat who made the move to Guácima.

Why do people move to Costa Rica?

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When we asked people why foreigners move to Costa Rica, they responded:

"Most foreigners who voluntarily move to San Jose, Costa Rica do so for the nice climate, lower cost of living, and friendly people. Some of course move here for work, usually in the multinationals, while a few are running from someone or something (often the law)," said one expat living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"Foreigners move to Playa Jaco for the beaches, fabulous sunsets, close proximity to an international airport (SJO is 90 minutes by car) and convenient shopping. Additionally, the community has a relaxed vibe, full of great restaurants, plentiful beach access, recreational activities and other expats to socialize," offered another expat living in Playa Jaco.

"Ojochal is a well known international residential community, not a tourist town. It has a larger percentage of foreigners than nearly any other town in Costa Rica. It is often referred to as "the Culinary Capital of Costa Rica" since many expats have opened restaurants there offering food from their home countries. Ojochal was the starting point of the Costa Ballena Women's Network, now with hundreds of members. There's a large US, Canadian and French contingent there, but you can also find residents from every continent. We now have an Indonesian restaurant, 2 French bakeries -- and Italian, Mexican, French, Thai, Tico and World cuisine. There's one of the most extensive collections of cooking ingredients of any grocery store anywhere in Costa Rica, in fact if you like to cook, this is the place to be. The little supermarket in Ojochal sells everything from Caviar to Curry, 5 kinds of Capers, Spring roll wrappers, Nori, Pickled ginger, polenta, cous cous and everything else you could think of. The expat community has been thriving for over 25 years. The crime rate is also lower than most other areas since it is a residential community and not a tourist town. It is also located south of the passport control checkpoint on the Baru River, criminals north of this point don't want to cross that bridge. The beaches in this area are stunning: Playa Tortuga, Playa Ballena, Playa Ventanas. Plus, it is is also where the mouth of the longest navigable river in all of Costa Rica reaches the ocean (the Terraba River). There are at least 10 phases of development for expats in Ojochal and lots of activities for both expats and Ticos. The neighborhood community interacts more with Ticos than in many other parts of Costa Rica," added one expat living in Ojochal.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

How are healthcare services Costa Rica?

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When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Costa Rica, they replied:

"My recommendation is to enroll in the public health system, but it is also VERY IMPORTANT to have private health insurance, since that would avoid worries about the immediate availability of the services that are required," added one expat living in Santa Ana.

"To use the socialized medical system in the area, you do not need to be a resident of Costa Rica (Residente). The hospital will accept all patients. It is not a large hospital and some procedures will be referred to either the closest national care hospital or one of the private hospitals in the Central Valley. However, there are many private care physicians in the area who will treat you and/or make referrals to more specialized care in other parts of the country. The local hospital has an emergency center," commented another expat living in Quepos .

"In Costa Rica, you must be a resident of the country to qualify for CAJA also know as the national socialized medicine. Additionally, this is not an option but a requirement of your residency here. The monthly fee is calculated based on your income. The local clinic also known as EBAIS is centrally located. If you are in the area, familiarize yourself with it's location. If you are not a resident, there are several private care physicians in the area and they are well educated and professional. If you do not speak Spanish, there are many that are bilingual. I know of at least one that has a 24 hour facility for emergencies. Additionally, specialists from the Central Valley visit these private care facilities on a monthly basis so if you need specialized care, it is available. At present, a general office visit in a private care facility is $40-$45," commented one expat who moved to Playa Jaco, Costa Rica.

"If you're a resident you pretty much have to enroll in the Caja, the public health system, and if you aren't, you can't. So there's that. Whether or not you enroll in the Caja, if you have the funds, private insurance is nice. INS, the state insurance company, sells a pretty good policy for not too much money, and (ahem) it's darn near customary not to mention pre-existing conditions on the application. After a year or so INS doesn't care, and it does pay. Blue Cross and others have now entered the market, but I doubt they're as lax as INS. Of course, you can always pay out-of-pocket for private at prices about a third of US prices, but even a third adds up. Me, I'm only in the Caja now, since I let my INS policy lapse, but that's because I'm poor. People of some affluence usually do both--private for ease and comfort, public as a backup. Oh, in the Caja plan on speaking Spanish. Most Caja docs will know a little English and a few will be fluent, but the system operates in Spanish and you can't count on anyone speaking English. In the private system almost everybody speaks English," remarked one expat living in San José.

"Costa Rica has excellent medical care with a two prong system, both public and private. All legal residents and citizens of Costa Rica are eligible to participate in the public healthcare system which is basically free although you have to be a member of the CAJA and pay a % based on the income level you declared when you applied for residency. A tip for expats is to show evidence of enough income to qualify for their residency programs but perhaps not to show all your income if not needed to qualify. (You have to show proof of a pension, annuity or government program that pays you at least $1000 per couple to qualify for their pensionado program). If you don't qualify by those means, you can also apply as a rentista, (renter), an inversionista (an investor) or as a foreign sponsored national with a work visa. You can also marry a Costa Rican... Keep in mind that there is also a private healthcare network available, which is often the preferred option to many expats. There is often a waiting time to get seen under the public system, even things like lab work might take longer than you want to wait. The private healthcare system is generally available immediately and insurance can be purchased to cover you in those facilities. You can also often offer to pay at the CAJA and be seen quicker than those not paying for service. In an emegency, the CAJA will take anyone. Costa Rica uses a local clinic methodology where they locate clinics nearly everywhere based on population needs. These clinics are referred to as the EBAIS clinics and can be found in nearly every town of any size. Major operations, whether in the public or private healthcare system, will likely be performed in San Jose. The private healthcare networks consisting of Clinica Biblica, CIMA and Hospital Mexico, offer great service for a fraction of the cost in the US. Clinica Biblica has an international medicine center, assigns patients a health navigator to help with things like language barriers and offers services that may not even be available in the states. I have had nothing but great experiences there, everything from blood work, orthapedics, dentistry, colonoscopy, endoscopy, stress test and EKG, bone density scans, lipids exams, urinalysis, hearing and eye tests, ultrasounds and more. I have stuff done that I could never afford to do in the states and pay a fraction of the cost I would in the US. The facilities are all impeccably clean and the doctors don't seem to be afraid of their patients and lawsuits. In our area in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica, we have one of the newest CAJA hospitals in all of Costa Rica. The Hospital de Osa is an 88 bed, 80,000 square foot facility complete with emergency room, pharmacy and more. I recommend everyone should try the Costa Rican healthcare system to see what we are missing in the US," commented another expat.

"National health care may not provide a sufficient safety net - it may require a long wait for medical procedures. Private health care is recommended, but coverage for "pre-existing conditions" is generally not available except through national health care," explained another expat living in Tamarindo.

"I moved here in the middle of a 5 year treatment plan. I retired early, and had no medical insurance. To stay on my treatment, I was able to buy the medication OTC for $60 a month," commented another expat living in Florencia.

"In addition to general practice physicians, dentistry services and physical well being facilities, the area offers specialized care physicians who attend to the area residents. Local general care physicians offer the use of their offices for this specialized service such as women's health care, cardiology, dermatology, advanced dentistry and internal medicine," commented one expat who moved to Playa Jaco, Costa Rica.

"Still working on the local insurance. Today I go out of pocket. Still less expensive than US," remarked one expat living in Nosara, Costa Rica.

"Medical and dental care are easily obtained, efficient, professional and relatively inexpensive here," commented another expat.

"We currently don't have healthcare insurance in Costa Rica, so we pay out of pocket for doctors and prescriptions. It is less than we were paying for deductibles in the United States. I have Medicare/Medicaid and would fly home for treatment, if needbe. However, we have applied for residency in C.R. and will be fully covered once we're approved," explained another expat living in Sarchi.

"The caja is randomly assigned and not really a great value for what you get, private care is better and expat insurance isn't inexpensive. I do better to have my home health insurance and pay cash for services in CR however the providers here are excellent,"

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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Costa Rica GuideCosta Rica Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Costa Rica.

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Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Costa Rica on our Costa Rica forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

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