Known for its beautiful beaches, lush jungles, welcoming people and affordability, Costa Rica is quickly gaining in popularity as much more than a vacation getaway. In fact, many United States citizens have already made the life-altering decision to move to Costa Rica. Per the U.S. Department of State, approximately 120,000 private American citizens currently reside in the country, many of whom are retirees.

The thought of leaving everything behind and moving to a new country can seem daunting to some. While there are clearly preparations that need to be made prior to moving to Costa Rica, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Immigrating to Costa Rica is possible, and with the right knowledge and planning, you too can start anew in the Central American paradise. So, if you’re asking yourself the question of “should I move to Costa Rica?” continue reading.

Immigrating to Costa Rica

U.S. nationals wishing to stay in Costa Rica for a period of 90 days or less don’t require an entry visa. But for those hoping to immigrate to this country, additional documentation is required.

In order to qualify for temporary residency in Costa Rica, you must prove you can earn a minimum of $2,500 a month remotely for two years, or for the full length of a temporary residency. A one-time deposit of $60,000 into a Costa Rican bank also satisfies this requirement. While it can be difficult to achieve permanent residency in Costa Rica, temporary visas can be renewed up to three months prior to their expiry.

Moving to Costa Rica to Study

Costa Rica accepts U.S. citizens looking to study abroad at one of the more than 60 Costa Rican institutions of higher learning. Prospective students fall under a special visa category, and must be prepared to submit proof of acceptance to a Costa Rican university in addition to standard provisional visa requirements.

Of note, acceptance to a Costa Rican university does not guarantee you’ll receive a provisional visa, but it is required as part of your visa application packet to the Costa Rican consulate.

Moving to Costa Rica for Work

Costa Rica holds strong nationalist laws to protect the jobs available in the country. As such, only Costa Rican citizens and approved permanent residence holders can work legally in Costa Rica without authorization.

That said, there are some exceptions to these laws. Temporary residents can work remotely while legally residing in Costa Rica. Additionally, investors and rentiers can open a business in Costa Rica under temporary resident status, but cannot work in the business, themselves. Otherwise, your only other option for a work permit is to obtain permanent residency. To do this, you must have blood ties to a Costa Rican citizen, and live in the country under temporary resident status for a minimum of three years.

Retiring in Costa Rica

Would it surprise you to know that you are not alone in your want to retire in Costa Rica? According to International Living, Costa Rica ranks number one on a 2021 comprehensive survey of the top retirement destinations in the world.

Before you can pack your bags and start your Costa Rican retirement, you will need to apply for and receive a specialized provisional visa for retirees. The Costa Rican embassy, located in Washington, DC, requires those applying for a retiree visa to submit the following:

  • Application letter for a residence permit stating the reasons for applying
  • Birth certificate, translated to Spanish and apostilled
  • Federal Criminal Background Certificate
  • Original and complete photocopy of pertinent passports
  • Proof of pension of at least $1,000 per month
  • Three color passport-sized photographs
  • Fee payment

The Big Move

Moving to Costa Rica is, by all means, a life-altering decision. The right knowledge and preparation will aid you in your journey, so you can enjoy a fresh start in one of Central America’s most beautiful countries.

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Mark Garcia