Costa Rica! The ‘rich coast’ – which stretches over 801 miles – is famous for its exquisite natural beauty, cheap cost of living, high standard of life and extreme biodiversity. All these factors combine to make it an increasingly popular emigration destination.
Recent 2nd place winner in InterNation’s 2017 Expat insider survey, Costa Rica is a blossoming expat destination. While traditionally more popular with retirees from the United States, Costa Rica is growing in popularity, with citizens looking to expatriate there from across the globe thanks to its long-established democracy, political stability, exploding tourism scene and high proportion of English speaking locals.
The lifestyle in Costa Rica is also one of its biggest selling points, especially considering how decidedly laid-back it is – so laid-back, in fact, that the national saying is; ‘pura vida’ which roughly translates to ‘pure life’, a low stress, low pressure sentiment that pervades the country and probably accounts for how happy the populace are (Costa Rica is repeatedly counted amongst the happiest countries in the world).
If you’re a wildlife fan, then Costa Rica is certainly hard to beat. It contains an extraordinary amount of flora and fauna, 5% of the world’s biodiversity, in fact, which is amazing considering that Costa Rica accounts for just 0.03% of the planet’s surface. That’s 130 species of fish, 220 reptiles, 1000 species of butterflies, 9000 types of plants, and 34,000 species of insect (admittedly you might consider this an excess of insects if you’re not that fond of creepy crawlies).
On a more practical front, if you move to Costa Rica you can enjoy paying no capital gains tax on real estate, whilst business taxes as a whole are minimal and high-interest bank accounts are completely tax free.
Property tax itself is extremely low compared to the US and the UK – you can expect to pay just 0.25% of the value of your property annually.
Additionally, things like utilities, food, and the cost of living as a whole are comparatively cheap (you can get a full-time maid for around $10 a day), whilst public transport is both inexpensive and reliable.
Considering all of these factors it’s easy to understand why Costa Rica is soaring in expat rankings.
The entry requirements for British passport holders are relatively lax; you don’t require a visa and upon entry you will be given a 90 day entry stamp.
If you’re looking for something a bit more permanent, however, then foreigners can apply for permission to work and for permission for residence – a slightly more complicated process with applications assessed by the Costa Rican Department of Immigration.
Generally speaking, they favour applicants that can demonstrate that they can provide financial benefit to the nation and people that can possibly contribute to the creation of employment within Costa Rica.
The more popular visa options are as follows:
Pensionado Program: This requires evidence that you have a minimum of $1000 a month in the form of income, pension, a retirement plan or social security. With this visa you are unable to work as an employee in Costa Rica but you can own a company and receive dividends from doing so.
The Rentista Program: This visa is for expats that do not have a fixed retirement income, requiring proof of $2500 monthly income for two years or simply a large deposit of $60,000 to a Costa Rican bank that is approved by the authorities.
You can, however, simply stay for the extent of your 90 day entry and return later, as many people do – although this route is becoming frowned upon.
We hope you enjoyed our little introduction to moving to Costa Rica. If you’re planning a move abroad in the near future, get in touch if you’d like to talk through your currency transfer options.
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