Pros And Cons Of Living In Costa Rica

Thanks to its beautiful weather, proximity to the ocean, and stable government, Costa Rica seems like a dream location for many people.

However, as with any other location, Costa Rica has pros and cons for anyone thinking about living there to consider.

beach with Costa Rica written in sand

Key Takeaways

  • Costa Rica offers gorgeous scenery, many beaches, and abundant wildlife.
  • Although the weather is mostly mild, a rainy season and hot summers can be uncomfortable.
  • Costa Rica is known for its democratic government and political stability.
  • Most people in Costa Rica enjoy a healthy lifestyle, and life expectancy is high.
  • Living in Costa Rica is inexpensive, and healthcare is affordable.
  • It can be difficult to gain residency in Costa Rica unless you make a certain amount from investments or pension plans.
  • Road conditions are poor.
  • Wait times for services, healthcare, and mail can be much longer than in the U.S.

Landscapes and Wildlife

Costa Rica is nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and the country itself is long and narrow.

This means that much of Costa Rica is located not far from a beach, and the landscape is gorgeous.

Anyone who lives in Costa Rica can enjoy walking on or viewing the beach, swimming in warm waters, and enjoying the lush, tropical landscape.

Costa Rica is also home to an abundance of plants and animals. People can often spot toucans, ocelots, whales, hummingbirds, monkeys, orchids, coconut palms, heliconias, and water hyacinths.

toucan in a tree

Weather and Natural Disasters

For most of the year, Costa Rica is warm and humid. Temperatures generally hover around 80 degrees throughout much of the country. Coastal areas are slightly warmer than the interior of the country.

From December through April, there is little rain and most days are beautiful.

From May through November, however, temperatures can be hot, reaching up to 90 degrees in some regions. Paired with high humidity, this can make being outdoors quite uncomfortable.

Costa Rica also has a rainy season in September and October, and rain can fall all day for many days in a row during these months.

In total, the country gets about 100 inches of rainfall each year, and, during the rainy season, about 15 inches of rainfall.

heavy rain over a roof surrounded by trees

Costa Rica is also prone to earthquakes. Although most earthquakes are mild, some areas experience frequent earthquakes, and the country experiences about 10,000 earthquakes each year in total.

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These earthquakes are usually simply annoying, but they can occasionally be dangerous, and larger earthquakes can cause tsunamis.

Political Stability

For decades, Costa Rica has been recognized as a beacon of political stability.

The Costa Rican government is elected through fair voting, and the government utilizes strong checks and balances, similar to the United States government, to ensure that no one branch or person retains too much power.

Costa Rica’s government often advocates for human and environmental rights, and the country is so committed to peace that there is no standing army.

Because the country isn’t paying for an army, the national budget is healthy, and excess money that would otherwise have gone into maintaining a military instead goes towards social services for Costa Ricans.

Lifestyle

Costa Ricans tend to enjoy healthy lifestyles. The main food staples are healthy fruits and vegetables, plus plenty of seafood.

Because there are so many outdoor activities to enjoy, from walking along the beach to mountain biking, people are generally active. This leads to a long life expectancy.

The life expectancy in the United States is about 77 years old, which is five to six years higher than in some other developed countries.

In Costa Rica, the average life expectancy is 79 years old, and that number has been steadily drawing closer to 80.

elderly couple in a store

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Costa Rica is relatively low, especially compared with the United States. Most people living in Costa Rica can expect to spend between about $1,400 and $4,000 per month.

Most people will only spend between $1,000 and $2,000 per month, and this includes housing. In the U.S., the average cost of living is about $5,000 per month, per person.

Housing is also extremely affordable in Costa Rica. If you want a big apartment in one of Costa Rica’s cities, you can usually find one for $1,000 or less per month, and a house can cost as little as $100,000.

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A large home with up to four bedrooms can cost as little as $300,000 and usually averages about $350,000.

Healthcare

Healthcare isn’t free in Costa Rica, but it is very affordable. The Costa Rican National Insurance Institute covers about 80% of all healthcare costs, which keeps healthcare below $250 per month for most people.

Most people will spend much less than this on healthcare, and many will only spend about $60 per month.

healthcare staff in hallway

Immigration and Residency

Gaining residency and immigration status in Costa Rica can be tricky. Most people will spend about two years gaining residency in the country.

They will also need to prove that they have made $2,500 per month or more for the last two years, or they’ll need to deposit at least $60,000 in a Costa Rican bank.

These people must own their own company or freelance and cannot work as employees.

People looking to gain residency can also become investors in Costa Rican businesses, but they must invest at least $200,000.

Other people with a first-degree relative who is a Costa Rican may have an easier time gaining residency.

The easiest way for U.S. citizens to immigrate to Costa Rica is through the Pensionado plan.

This plan is designed for retirees who make $600 or more per month from their pension or retirement fund or anyone who makes $1,000 or more per month from investment income.

This process still takes about two years, however.

Road Conditions

Although Costa Rica is a clean, safe country, its road conditions are often very poor. Some people may find that their car has become damaged simply from driving over Costa Rica’s roads.

Many native Costa Ricans also drive quickly and with little regard for road rules. Accidents are common, and this type of driving can make it hazardous for pedestrians.

standing in a pothole on a paved road

Long Wait Times for Services and Mail

Costa Ricans often have a relaxed schedule, so if you call for any type of maintenance, you may find that the wait time is long.

Mail also takes a long time to move to and around Costa Rica, and wait times for healthcare can also be lengthy.

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