Costa Rica Retirement: What’s it like retiring to Costa Rica?
by Mark Van Patten
What's it like retiring to Costa Rica? Wherever you are living now, imagine how you would answer that question if somebody was considering retiring there.
- What's it like retiring to Seattle?
- What's it like retiring to Scottsdale?
- What's it like retiring to Sarasota?
The correct answer is one that incontinent boomers know about:
Retire to Costa Rica on Social Security?
There is no definitive answer because each of us brings different wants and needs and expectations to our new retirement home. But, after 20 months of living in Costa Rica fulltime, we feel qualified to offer advice about retiring to Costa Rica and living on Social Security.
No Money for Retirement
I was working as general manager of a newspaper, my wife retired years ago. When the crash hit the market and our savings plummeted, I figured retirement was a pipe dream. We had spent too much and saved too little even before the crash. Recovering the money to get us to half what the financial experts said we would need for retirement was impossible. Typical Midwest middle-class folks.
I whined to anyone that would listen that I could NEVER afford to retire. Until Nancy, my wife, surfed across stories and blogs from people like us who were retiring abroad.
We started researching this option and came to the conclusion that it was doable for us.
Costa Rica, That’s an Island Right?
If you are considering retiring to Costa Rica – or any other country outside the U.S. – be prepared to spend countless hours on the internet doing research. Due diligence some call it. Many evenings were spent in our recliners in front of the television, each of us with a laptop open, surfing the web to find anything about living in Costa Rica.
We would email or instant message interesting stuff to the other person sitting across the room. It requires discipline and patience, but if two of you are making the move and will be living together, you better make sure the other person has fully committed to the idea and is doing research too.
After you have spent the first hundred hours doing research, it's time for a gut check. This is hard. This is the time when you have to do some self-analysis and communicate with your partner your deepest thoughts and emotions about retiring abroad.
Keep No Secrets – Tell No Lies
Now is not the time to keep a secret from your spouse, partner or family, or fudge a little bit about your true feelings. If you have reservations about living outside the U.S., get them out in the open now. This is not a vacation. This will be a life changing experience.
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