Moving To Costa Rica From USA

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Moving is always fun. However, what if you are moving to a whole new country like Costa Rica? Isn’t there a lot of research that you need to do before your move? Well, here’s a guide!

Costa Rica is a beautiful country in Central America. Despite political instability in the region, Costa Rica is known for its stable politics and democracy. Having a highly educated workforce, the country is blessed with excellent attractions, stunning weather, natural beauty, and pristine lake regions. Costa Rica offers a brilliant lifestyle at a reasonable cost. This is a major reason why numerous expats consider relocating to Costa Rica from US. Being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, the adventurous country is endowed with lush rainforests, fun beaches, mountain getaways, deserts, clean water, and tons of tourist destinations.

As a famous tourist destination, Costa Rica is known for its warm welcome to around 1.7 million visitors each year that head on to it for tourism purposes out of which the majority comes from US and Canada. Having said that, if you are all set for your adventurous move to Costa Rica from US, read on. Without further introduction, let’s begin with the city guide!

Official Name
Republic Of Costa Rica
Spanish Name
República De Costa Rica
San José
Central America
4.9 Million
Official Languages
Religions Followed
Roman Catholicism
Costa Rican Colón (CRC). Symbol: ₡
Time Zone
Country Dialling Code

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Expat Destinations In Costa Rica

If you are searching for the ideal places to live in Costa Rica, we have listed 4 expat destinations for you. The existence of brilliant educational institutions and other necessities has made Costa Rica an ideal place for students, families, and working professionals.


Located in the central valley of Costa Rica, this suburb is endowed with plenty of restaurants, amenities, neighborhoods, and trendy bars. Enjoying cool and spring-like weather all around the year, Escazu embraces a huge number of newcomers each year.


Atenas is a small town and one of the best places to gain authentic Costa Rican food, culture, and coffee. The town is a famous spot for expat retirees that look for a laid-back and stress-free country living along with big-city amenities and easy access to the airport.


Situated on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, Tamarindo is the most beautiful beach town in the world. For beach lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, visitors, and surfers, this city is a true destination. The nightlife is excellent and the city is blessed with the best bars and restaurants. All in all, Tamarindo is ideal for young people.


Located to the north of San Jose, this hilly town is home to a huge number of students/young people. The city is highly famous among expats for its stunning architecture, outdoor attractions, and lush vegetation.

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Working In Costa Rica

Considering the quality of education and literacy in Costa Rica, there is severe competition in the job market. The Costa Rican law indicates that an expat can only be hired for a particular position if there are no available nationals. In other words, in case there are no locals with the required qualification, laws state hiring a foreign national.

Nonetheless, there are a huge number of expats moving to Costa Rica from Canada, Europe, and the USA as highly trained experts in the field of engineering and IT. Individuals preferring to relocate to Costa Rica as seasonal workers or English teachers in the tourism sector are highly welcome.

Costa Rica was once heavily dependent on agriculture. However, today its economy is divided and dispersed in huge sectors like corporate service for foreign organizations, ecotourism, finance, and pharmaceuticals. Several foreign organizations in both service and manufacturing industries operate in the Free Trade Zones (FTZ) of Costa Rica where they are highly benefited from tax incentives and investments.

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Banking In Costa Rica

Well, one thing that might seem like mountainous work in Costa Rica is to have a bank account. You need banking facilities to access certain necessary services. In case you stay long-term, you will still need a proper bank account. If you have already obtained a residency in Costa Rica, searching for an account will not be a problem, however, you will need to gather some paperwork to create your application.

Banco De Costa Rica is a state-owned bank and is a good place to begin while looking for an account that best suits your needs. You can easily find all the necessary documents online along with the minimum deposit amount and the eligibility criteria. Besides this, you can even check out some other big banks in Costa Rica including Banco Popular, Scotiabank, and Davivienda.

Taxation In Costa Rica

Being an American, if you become a resident of Costa Rica for tax purposes you will need to pay tax on your income. Costa Rica has a progressive tax system. This means that you will need to pay taxes to a different amount based on your income levels. Roughly, the top rates of personal income tax for huge earners are 25%. As employers, you need to pay 10.5% for social security contributions although the rates do vary if you are self-employed. Other taxes include VAT (value-added tax) which is generally set at 13% for maximum items. The real estate transfer tax is 1.5% of the total value of any property that you purchase.

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Healthcare In Costa Rica

Studies, investigations, and international surveys state how the Costa Rican healthcare system stands at the top when it comes to Latin America and Central America. The two chief sectors in the Costa Rican Healthcare system include,

  • Government-sponsored/public hospital
  • Private hospital

The state-owned network of clinics and hospitals throughout the country is known as the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (or simply Caja). Services of this system are available to both locals and expats relocating to Costa Rica from US. In other terms, the public healthcare system is available to all residents and non-residents. Back in 2010, the Costa Rica government made it necessary for foreigners to register along with the public scheme to obtain residency. In return, expats can receive free healthcare at public facilities.

Nevertheless, residents and expats generally prefer private healthcare services due to the number of benefits that it provides. Compared to the public facilities, the private system employs English-speaking healthcare professionals who were trained in Europe, Canada, and the US. This makes it easy for expats to communicate with the doctors upon moving to Costa Rica from US. Another excellent point is, the cost of medical services in private institutions of Costa Rica is quite lower than in the USA.

Besides this, Costa Rica offers a free healthcare system for all permanent citizens and expats. The ideal solution for expats without having a residency is to buy an international health insurance plan or a private insurance plan. Expats can even purchase a private insurance plan via the INS. Following this, individuals can obtain top-quality care at healthcare facilities. Furthermore, with a private insurance plan through INS, you will be required to pay between $60 and $250 per month. Besides this, you will have to wait for a much shorter time and you can choose the doctor of your choice!

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Housing And Accommodation

After your move to Costa Rica from US, the immediate next step is to find accommodation. Although the home prices differ depending on the town and city, the overall housing market of Costa Rica is both robust and highly affordable. As per studies, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city center is $475.13 per month. Likewise, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside the city is around $384.74 per month.

To be more precise, the average price per square foot of an apartment for sale in Costa Rican city is $174.11 and the average price per square foot of an apartment for sale outside the city is $141.87. To be quite clear, the most expensive properties in Costa Rica are situated in the central valley, the greater metropolitan area like the Alajuela, San Jose, Heredia, and Escazu, and the Pacific coast.

Several Americans relocating to Costa Rica from US wish to obtain a residence permit by purchasing or investing in a real estate property in Costa Rica. However, others prefer renting an apartment in Alajuela, San Jose, Puerto Limon, Heredia, or other chief cities. Renting is a more wise option instead of purchasing a property right away. The most expensive dwellings exist in the capital of the country, San Jose.

Visa And Registration

Canadian and US citizens do not require a visa to visit Costa Rica as a tourist. However, individuals need to display proof of a plan to leave Costa Rica within 90 days. The proof may involve a return plane ticket. Expats looking forward to residing in Costa Rica for the long term have plenty of visa options like the Rentista Program and the Pensionado Program.

Rentista Program

This either requires proof of monthly income of at least $2500 for 2 years or a total of $60,000 deposit into a Costa Rican bank.

Pensionado Program

This requires expats to have proof of receiving at least $1000 a month from a pension source.

However, US and Canadian citizens who wish to stay longer can temporarily go to nearby Nicaragua for a day and then come back and enjoy another 90 days in Costa Rica. Now, this might seem illegal but it is completely legal. The process is known as perpetual tourism. However, note that this is not a form of citizenship.

In addition, if you are a perpetual tourist, the Costa Rican government does not allow you to work in its country. You need to have a proper residency to work in Costa Rica. However, a good part is, individuals under the 90-day tourist visa are allowed to earn in different ways. You can be self-employed, you can own a business, or you can own a property. However, bear in mind that you can not work in that business.

There are a variety of visas in Costa Rica but gaining a work visa can be a bit challenging. You need to fill a position that is empty and cannot be done by any native Costa Rican. Only then can you obtain a work visa. Nevertheless, considering the talent of the local workforce and the high bar, gaining a work visa seems difficult.

Education In Costa Rica

What sets Costa Rica apart from other countries in the world is its high quality and standard of education. The country has a literacy rate of 93% which makes it one of the highest literate countries in Latin America.

Costa Rica has 2 education systems: Public and Private. In most areas, public schools are available. However, they only offer instructions up till the 9th grade as needed by law for children of ages 6-14. The other larger communities own private Catholic or Montessori schools that offer instruction to the 11th grade and the National Baccalaureate.

Primary education in Costa Rica takes 6 years while high school takes 5-6 years. This depends on the school and degrees that are offered. The government of Costa Rica has made education compulsory for all children.

  • Preschool in Costa Rica is open for children of ages 3-6. Education is not compulsory.
  • Primary education in Costa Rica is open for children under the age of 6-12. Primary education is compulsory.
  • Secondary school in Costa Rica is open for children falling in the age category of 13-17. Secondary education is also compulsory in Costa Rica.

Both primary and secondary education here is completely free. Furthermore, even children of illegal immigrants have all rights to attend local schools. The chief expenses that need to be covered include textbooks, school uniforms, and other school supplies. Although expats moving to Costa Rica from US prefer sending their children to international schools, there are plenty of bilingual schools for expats relocating to Costa Rica from US.

Cost Of Living In Costa Rica

Now that we are speaking about the cost of living in Costa Rica, let us make it clear that it is not expensive to live in Costa Rica. The average cost of living in the country is much less than 2000 USD, most of which is due to housing costs. Although the 3 most expensive cities in Costa Rica are Puntarenas, San José, and Tamarindo, expats who wish to spend less can look for studio apartments or areas away from tourist spots and main cities. Below is a price comparison for the basic cost of living in Costa Rica.

One Gallon Of Milk
One Loaf Of Bread
One Dozen Eggs
Water Bottle
One Pound Of Potatoes
Meal At An Inexpensive Restaurant (2 people)
Latte At A Cafe
Basic Cable


While international moves are definitely stressful, it is important to figure out the process of your move. Irrespective of the place that you move to, it is an exhilarating decision for an expat. However, at Earth Relocation, we offer the most affordable and efficient international moving services to Costa Rica. Rendering a high-quality relocation service, we at Earth Relocation take care of all the custom processes. While finding a moving company in Costa Rica, reach out to none other than us. We deal in a comprehensive range of services from packaging to shipping and unpacking at satisfactory rates. Being one of the licensed moving companies Costa Rica, our team of professionals is committed to offering the most feasible transportation services. Give us a call today and book your FREE estimate along with excellent shipping advice at cost-effective rates. Happy Moving!

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