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Costa Ballena, Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Mar 09, 2024

Summary: Many expats and digital nomads move to Costa Rica for its beautiful scenery, warm climate, and low cost of living. Additionally, Costa Rica is known for its friendly people and its commitment to sustainability. People looking for a place to live in Costa Rica can find a variety of options, from renting an apartment to buying a house. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in Costa Rica are San Jose, Tamarindo, and Puerto Viejo. These cities offer a variety of amenities, from restaurants and nightlife to beaches and outdoor activities.

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

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

"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," said one expat who made the move to Paquera.

"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," explained one expat living in Costa Rica.

"Demand that your company arranges everything! Costa Rica is a highly bureacratic country so you will not want to get involved in any of that. Your company should give you some alternatives and you should do nothing more than approving their selection. Trying to do things on your own will only give you stomach ulcer," said one in San Jose.

"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," explained one expat who made the move to Escazu.

"Decide if you like the country or the city, what size housing you prefer, what you like to do, what type of climate you prefer, there are 11 different micro climates within a short distance. Most expats I help want to get residency or citizenship, buy a house and start a business. besides enjoying the beaches, the mountains, the rain forest, etc," explained one expat living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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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.

Costa Ballena, Costa Rica

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