Costa Rica has long been a popular retirement destination for retirees from around the world because of its natural beauty, friendly people and proximity to the United States. This Central American country is located between Nicaragua and Panama (to the north and south) and the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean (to the east and west). Although it is more expensive than some other Central and South American countries, there are still many affordable places there to discover.
Retirement for Costa Ricans
The retirement age in Costa Rica is 62 years old for men and 60 years old for women and the majority of the country’s population has a pension plan. This pension plan has a contributory system funded by the employer, the employee and the State; and a non-contributory component which is a compulsory savings plan financed by the State and the Fondo de Desarrollo Social y Asignaciones Familiares (FODESAF). Between these two pensions, 70% of the population over the age of 60 is covered.
Besides these pension plans, there are other programs set up for people over the age of 60. For example, anyone over the age of 60 and living in poverty receives money from the government regardless of whether or not they have contributed to the Social Security Fund. In Costa Rica the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (CCSS) provides free health care to almost the entire population and there are special programs in place for the elderly so that they receive the health care that they need.
Unlike in the U.S., care for the elderly is largely taken care of by family members; nursing homes are for the elderly who do not have family and who meet certain financial and medical requirements. The Golden Citizen Programme is for all citizens over the age of 65; this program was set up to improve the quality of life for the elderly people. Through this program, the elderly are shown special treatment in regard to public places and receive discounts on certain items. Along with these programs, many medical clinics offer classes on how to care for elderly relatives.
Americans in Costa Rica
As in many countries, a person is able to stay in Costa Rica for up to three months without a visa; however, if you want to stay longer, you have to apply for a visa. There are several types of visas that you can apply for; the most basic one is called the Pensionado Program, which requires that you receive at least $1,000 per month from a pension or other retirement plan and that you do not work. To apply for the different visas you need to go to the nearest embassy to you.
If you are planning on buying real estate there, it is important to explore the country and decide where you want to be and what type of lifestyle you want to lead. The cities in Costa Rica offer many of the services you are used to in the United States, while in the rural areas, it is much harder to get everything that you are accustomed to. As an American, you are allowed to buy property there and you will find that real estate there is much less expensive than in the U.S.; however, depending on where you buy will determine how much you will pay. In the more popular areas, you are going to pay more for a home. In San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital), rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around $700 per month; while in lesser-known areas, the same apartment would cost around $500 per month or less.
Health care is some of the best in Latin America, but if you do not plan on becoming a legal resident, you need to buy private insurance. Health insurance is relatively inexpensive and the hospitals and health clinics are continually being improved and updated. A trip to the doctor will only cost you around $40. If you do plan on becoming a legal resident, then you can enroll in the CCSS, which offers health insurance for a low monthly cost.
A Place for Adventure and Relaxation
Costa Rica not only has beautiful beaches, but lush, green jungles. It is a beautiful country that’s full of adventure. Some of the best surfing spots in the world can be found here; in fact, in a CNN article, Tamarindo Beach was named the twenty-seventh best surfing spot out of fifty in the world. But you don’t have to be an expert to surf in Costa Rica; there are many beaches that are perfect for beginners.
Besides surfing, there are kayaking, snorkeling, canopy tours, and ATV tours. If you are not one for action sports, you can go to one of the many beaches and enjoy the sound of the ocean crashing onto the sand. There are also wildlife tours where you can discover the different animals that call Costa Rica home or spend a day taking a tour of coffee and chocolate; or if a day of pampering is what you are looking for, there are many different spas to escape to. Whether you’re looking for adventure or a relaxing escape, Costa Rica has it all.
Not only are there lots of things to do in Costa Rica, but there is also wonderful food to eat. At local farmers markets you can buy fresh produce, fish and meat for very little money. The quality of the local products is something that will leave you wanting more and you will be able to make some truly amazing dishes with the ingredients. If you want to buy American food, such as chips, you will have to go to a supermarket and you will pay more for them than you would in the United States.
Moving to Costa Rica means that you are going to have to make adjustments. The official language is Spanish and even though many people do speak English, trying Spanish first is always a good idea. It is important to remember that Costa Rica is not the U.S. and you shouldn’t expect it to be the same. If you go into it with your eyes open, Costa Rica could be the ideal location.