Costa Rica Blog
In the next few months, I am going to look at 20 countries that are often sought out by Expats and Retirees. Each will be as a comparison to living elsewhere, including owning property in Costa Rica, the US or Canada.
The cost of visiting Costa Rica as a tourist has increased due to large increase in tourism in the past 4 years. Costa Rica, a country of only 4 million people, had over 2 million tourists in 2010. Car rentals, hotel rentals and other touristy activities have risen in price but thankfully living there is still cheap by North American standards. The larger expenses in life, property taxes, health care and insurance are still amazingly cheap by US standards but traveling as a tourist is not so cheap. Costa Rica is quite rugged and what looks like an easy ride on the map may take hours longer than expected. There are four mountain ranges in Costa Rica and peaks to 10,000 feet are common. Roads aren’t the best and driving at night is not recommended since you may come across cattle, cars without lights or sudden changes in road conditions you may not have anticipated.
If you happen to be in Costa Rica at the right time of year, a fun thing to do is going to the many rodeos, horse demonstrations or “bull fights”. Horses are almost a national symbol in Costa Rica and always a cause for a celebration. Rodeos are staged throughout the country and many small towns have their own rodeo or bull ring. There are also some portable ones and even a circuit of professional riders that tour around and appear at shows.
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Last week Kristina and I headed to Vegas and not just for fun. Where else can you see Elvis in a pink Cadillac and meet over 500 people interested in international real estate? Just when I thought things couldn't get any hotter for our real estate project in Costa Rica, we also hit a major new milestone.
Many of you may realize that last week International Living held an event at the San Jose Marriott "Live and Invest in Costa Rica". As the sponsor for the event, we provided the entire conference with an opening cocktail reception with open bar and appetizers. I also gave a presentation during the event about our project in Costa Rica and we had a booth in the exhibit room. The Marriott is a beautiful hotel and the conference center is equally as nice. The event was attended by over 200 people.
Here is an email I recently wrote to one of our clients that wanted a tour of a few hours with little notice.
Gallup, the provider of reliable and respected opinion polls in over 155 countries recently concluded its 5 year study called "Gallup Global Wellbeing". Gallup's global wellbeing metrics are the first comprehensive measure of the behavioral economics of gross national wellbeing, which lays the foundation for all other measures of a country's economic strength. Gallup asks ordinary individuals for their thoughts and opinions on several topics, including economics, religion, migration, and wellbeing. They then classified respondents as "thriving", "struggling" or "suffering" upon how they rated their current and future lives.
People ask all the time about Panama as the new Costa Rica. Both are popular expat locations and both have pros and cons. Panama is cheaper from a tax perspective since under the pensionado program there, property taxes are waived for at least 10 years but keep in mind that many who move there do not do so under the pensionado program, therefore they still pay property taxes. Candidly property taxes are low in both countries, so low that to base a consideration on where to live on that aspect makes no sense. Choose the place you like the best based on quality of life, health care, ease and cost of accessibility, activities available, infrastructure, friendliness, etc. Cost of living is candidly about the same in either country. Living in Panama City is similar to living in San Jose, lots of expats, more crime, like city living anywhere.
I returned to the bank on the 4th, since the 2nd and 3rd were weekend days, only to find that the definition of procrastination starts with "Pura Vida". It seems the nearly everyone in Alejuala failed to renew their Marchamo (vehicle registration) so the line snaked outside the bank into the Multiplaza. You buy your new registration at the bank. Gracias a Dios (thank god) there is a guard to open and close the door as one more person squeezed in the door and hopefully one more person came out. There were 4 cajas (teller windows) open, one reserved for old, infirm, incontinent and prolific breeders (mothers with infants), the last category seems most popular in Alejuela and it seems they breed them just to skip the line at the bank. There were also two "Jefe" (chiefs) desks, both with Jefe's AND assistants, but no interest in opening the other darkened caja windows when they had perfectly good desks to sit behind and watch the line crawl while offering no assistance. I was able to squeeze past the line, directly to the Jefe. After filling out a number of "formularios" he took my order for a new card to be delivered back to the branch in Cortes four days later. If I wanted colones now however, I would have to wait in line.