Why Costa Rica?

Our exploration started at a time when it looked like my job would be going away within two years. So I asked myself “what would I do?” and soon after that “what do I really want to do?” The answer was a resounding “I want to retire!” Life had taken some twists and turns as it did for so many people during the recession, and it was beginning to look like we would never be able to retire. The job situation got resolved, and I learned that if I stayed a couple more years, I would be eligible for a small pension. We have continued working towards that goal while we research retirement in Costa Rica and build a small nest egg so we can make the move.

Walking on the beach in Jaco.

Walking on the beach in Jaco.

I searched the web for affordable places to retire, and various foreign countries popped up in the results. An old friend had spent some time in Costa Rica in the 70′s and had loved the country and its people. I ran the idea by Joe, and he was excited as we both love exploring foreign countries, and he is especially keen on learning to surf. I continued researching Costa Rica. I occasionally veered off and looked into Panama, Belize, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, all of which are less expensive places to live than Costa Rica, but kept cycling back to Costa Rica for a variety of reasons.

Besides the fact that Costa Rica is stunningly beautiful, there are several other factors that make it an appealing place to retire.

  • Because of its proximity to the equator and its many different microclimates, you can find a place in Costa Rica where the weather is perfect for you.
  • Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 species of plants and animals, and natural beauty abounds.
  • The Costa Rican government has set aside over 25% of the land for parks and conservation, so the country appeals to our eco-sensibilities.
  • We also love the ocean, and Costa Rica has beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the country. The Maritime Zone Law of 1977 prohibits private ownership of beaches in Costa Rica, so you can freely enjoy any beach in the country that you can get to.
  • We love coffee, and some of the world’s best coffee is grown in Costa Rica.
  • We have come to love the Ticos. (Costa Ricans affectionately call themselves “Ticos” and people from elsewhere “Gringos”, and neither term is considered derogatory.) Many studies, including the Happy Planet Index , have ranked Costa Ricans as the happiest people in the world.
  • The Costa Rican army was abolished in 1949, and there is a prevailing sense of peace across the country. While many cite the phrase “Pura Vida” (which means pure life), the word we heard many Ticos use is “tranquilo”, which means serene, peaceful, or tranquil. We heard it from people we met on the bus as well as taxi drivers.
  • We have met a lot of helpful people across Costa Rica and have received valuable insight into how they are able to live on tight budgets.
  • While it’s not the least expensive place to retire, by making practical lifestyle choices, it is possible to live a simple, happy life in Costa Rica.