/How to Retire in Costa Rica

How to Retire in Costa Rica

Costa Rica was the first Latin America country to cater to American retirees actively.

Here’s how to determine if the tropical paradise is the right retirement destination for you. (U.S. News & World Report)

Before choosing Costa Rica for retirement, spend extended time in the country. There is a rainy season from May through November when rainfall is regular and sometimes dramatic. All-day rains are not common, but rain can fall hard and quick enough to create flash flooding and wash out roads. If you’re considering life in one of this country’s beach towns, which often sit at the end of unpaved roads, this is an important consideration, as access can be a challenge some months of the year. On the other hand, the rainy season has advantages. There are far fewer tourists during the rainiest months, and prices are lower.

Rent first, for six months to a year, to give yourself a chance to try the place on for size before committing fully. This is a good strategy no matter where in the world you might be considering reinventing your life overseas. Renting before making a property purchase means greater flexibility and can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Even if you determine that Costa Rica is the country for you, you could decide, after getting to know the place better, that you prefer a different region. Perhaps you will find the country’s highlands more pleasant than the beach, or that you prefer the next beach town over to the one where you initially settled. If you haven’t bought a home of your own, when the term of your rental is over, you can move.

If you decide you’d like to buy property, you won’t have to look far to find an agent to help with the search. Real estate agents will seek you out, including in the arrivals terminal of the San Jose airport. You should consult with more than one agent before making a purchase. There’s no multiple listing service, which means each agent has only his listings to offer. To get a complete picture of the market and a better idea of what the kind of property you want to buy should cost, you need to meet with as many property agents as possible.

Costa Rica is home to some of the world’s biggest communities of foreign retirees. It’s easy to fall into the trap of complaining that things in Costa Rica don’t work the way they did back home, which can be true anywhere expat retirees congregate. The secret to avoiding retirement overseas regrets is making sure you have ideas and plans for filling your time.