Costa Rica Retirement: What’s it like retiring to Costa Rica?
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Costa Rica Is Perfect, Right?
No, and it's probably unreasonable to expect that any place where you can live on a social security income will be.
You will have to compromise.
Our preferred vacation destinations were in the Caribbean. Maskall, Belize, Negril, Jamaica, Bridgetown, Barbados, Cancun, Mexico, Nassau / Bimini Bahamas were some of the spots where we vacationed. We usually chose 3-star destinations and tried to find local hot spots and marketplaces that closely represented living in these areas. The point is: we knew that we didn't require or expect the same amenities that many expect while on vacation.
Mexico? Belize? Panama?
We are warm weather people so we put these countries on our short list of places to retire:
- Costa Rica
After more research, we decided to make Costa Rica our first destination for due diligence for retirement living.
Wing It? Or Get a Guide?
While researching Costa Rica, one site popped up regularly in our search results: TheRealCostaRica.com. We decided that what worked best for us was to hire Tim to show us the area of Costa Rica where most expats live successfully. While captive with him in his car, we were lectured on "the real Costa Rica." Tim makes it clear from the get-go, he is not selling Costa Rica or anything else (real estate.)
Tim teaches expats what life is like in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. If you are thinking about retirement in Costa Rica, we recommend (with a caveat) hiring Tim to help you with your due diligence. If you don't hire him, at least thoroughly review his website. It is far and away the most complete and accurate and unbiased.
It’s Costa Rica, Now What?
After taking a weeklong tour (two days with TheRealCostaRica.com and four days on our own) we returned home to do more soul-searching and research. For one reason or another, the other countries were eliminated and Costa Rica kept rising to the top.
Rent or Buy in Costa Rica?
We purchased a home near Atenas, Costa Rica. Here's why: we put our home on the market and three days later had an acceptable offer of 96% of our asking price with 90 days possession. We originally figured it would take 12-18 months to sell our home. When the house sold so quickly, it moved my retirement up. We had four dogs, renting a place for a year or so in the U.S. while we looked for a place to live in Costa Rica would be difficult.
All the advice is to rent before you buy. Even real estate agents offer this advice and most are property-managers for rental property owners. Renting has many advantages:
- Flexibility to live in different parts of the country or even different parts of the same town.
- Somebody else deals with home-ownership issues.
- No maintenance.
With that said, renting a home in Costa Rica is not easy. Every person we have been in contact with has a horror story about their landlord or gardener or neighbors.
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