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Moving to Costa Rica

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to Costa Rica

What are the requirements to live in Costa Rica? Is it easy or hard to make this Latin American country your new home? Our comprehensive guide will answer all of your questions and more, ensuring you know every step needed to relocate to the land of Pura Vida (“pure life”).

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Do you need to know how to move to Costa Rica? Is it simple to relocate there or difficult? How do you get a visa? What is the health system like? This InterNations GO! guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the relocation process: from the initial planning stages to the Know Hows of settling-in.

Why are so many expats moving to this Latin American country? Because the benefits of living in Costa Rica are many. For starters, its healthcare system is one of the best in the world, surpassing even the nearby US. The cost of living is also low, and foreigners will not face any restrictions when trying to rent or buy a home. Where expats may face hardships, however, is in finding a job with a Costa Rican company.

Interested in learning more? Whether you are moving to Costa Rica for work, retirement, or adventure, this relocation guide will serve as a reference for everything you need to know. When you are done reading, contact our experts to see how you can start planning your expat journey today!



Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

The process of relocating to Costa Rica is easy, but there are a few unique challenges that may catch expats off guard if they are not prepared. For example, coming to this country with pets does not require a microchip or quarantine for your furry friend, but they will need vaccinations other than the standard rabies one. People, too, are also required to receive standard vaccinations before arriving in Costa Rica. This includes a rabies shot if you are from a country deemed as high-risk.

Other challenges expats should be aware of is that they will need to provide several forms of receipts and documents in order to claim their items from customs. This includes documentation on the value of your car, should you wish to import it into the country.

This section of our guide will help you prepare for your Costa Rican journey. Expats should read it before arriving in the country, as it is full of useful information that is needed from the start. We include tips on what you should pack in order to feel more at home in the land of sloths and volcanoes, and tips on what items you can leave behind.

Unsure of how to ship your household goods to Costa Rica? Our guide recommends the easiest solutions dependent on your timeline and budget. For more detailed information, check out our Moving, Shipping, and Storage services page, or book a one-hour consultation call with our relocation experts.

Need to know more? Read on so that you are fully prepared to start your life in the beautiful land of Pura Vida.

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Visas & Work Permits

How do you get a Costa Rican visa or work permit? Depending on your circumstances, it may be difficult. If you are a retiree looking to spend your Golden Years here, you should have no problem getting a visa as long as you plan to live only off your pension. If you are a working expat, you may have a harder time. In this country, only permanent residents are allowed to work, and it takes either Costa Rican blood, marriage to a citizen, or five years of residency to achieve that.

This section of our guide will walk you through all you need to know about the Costa Rican visa application process. We cover the requirements for different visas, whether you are relocating to open a business, as a freelance, or to buy a house. The country offers several types of visas foreigners can apply for, and the total costs for each range around 226,400 CRC (400 USD). We also talk about the steps you can take towards permanent residency, and even citizenship, if you want.

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Finding accommodation in Costa Rica is both easy and difficult for expats. It is easy because foreigners have all the same rights as local residents when it comes to renting or buying a house. The difficulty comes from competing with all the other expats for your perfect tropical home.

There is no limit to the type of house non-residents can rent or buy in Costa Rica. Housing here is generally affordable, with the average rent staying below 1,000 USD per month. The average price to purchase a house fluctuates depending on whether you want a beach or mountain home, but most properties start at around 100,000 USD. The main document most foreigners will have to produce to secure a place is a valid passport.

Whether you want to know how to rent a house in Costa Rica for the short-term or you are looking for a second home in which to spend your retirement, our guide is the perfect reference to get you going. We cover such information as how to pay for utilities in this country and even which countries can easily access their favorite TV shows. Read on to find out how you can make your Pura Vida expat dream a reality.

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The healthcare system and public health insurance in Costa Rica are some of the best in the world. The country is consistently ranked among the 20th percentile of top country healthcare systems by the United Nations.

Public health insurance in Costa Rica is available for all residents and non-residents. In 2010, the government made it mandatory that all foreigners register with the public scheme in order to obtain residency. In turn, expats are able to receive free healthcare at public facilities.

Not interested in public healthcare? Many residents of this Latin American country opt for private healthcare in addition to the public coverage. This allows greater access to private facilities and the option to visit more specialists, if needed.

Want to learn more? This section of our guide will explain Costa Rica’s healthcare system and all you need to know to join either the public or private sector. We include what it is like giving birth in this country, how to find a doctor, and whether myths about Tico medical providers are true or not.

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Banks & Taxes

What are the steps to opening a bank account in Costa Rica? Can you do it with a tourist visa or do you need a residence permit? Which are the best banks in Costa Rica: private or public?

These are just some of the questions we cover in our Costa Rica Banks and Taxes section. We walk you through the requirements to open a bank account, even as a non-resident. Taxes are also something incoming expats will want to learn about, especially with the country’s reputation as a tax haven. Exactly how much is the tax in Costa Rica? Read on to find out.

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Are you thinking of enrolling your child in an international school in Costa Rica? Most expats who choose this route will need to live in the Central Valley region, as this is where the greatest amount of international institutions are located in the country. However, it is also possible to find a few schools near the country’s Pacific coastline.

Whether you are interested in international or local schools, this section of our guide will help you decide upon the best school for your child. Costa Rica’s education system is lauded as one of the best in Latin America, and it ranks highly among the world, too. The school system in this country focuses on starting learning at a young age, and the government even requires two years of preschool.

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Do you want to work in Costa Rica? Given the number of expats in this country, you may think that jobs are easy to get here, but that is not the case. Costa Rica places great emphasis on hiring local residents before foreigners, thus, it can be hard to secure a valid job offer.

That being said, getting a job in this Latin country is not impossible. How? Explore self-employment opportunities. This section of our guide will help you explore that, as well as lay out the average salary and social security benefits immigrants to Costa Rica can expect. We also cover the business culture here, including whether or not you should arrive early for a meeting and the standard workplace dress code for men and women.

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The prospect of living in Costa Rica calls to relaxing days by the beach or enjoying vibrant forest scenery. While this is true for most expats who have made the Pura Vida (“pure life”) country their new home, there are also some downsides that foreigners should be aware of. For example, the laidback vacation vibe can also lead to delays in essential services such as restoring your power after an outage, or frequent cancellations by plumbers and electricians.

This section of our guide will help you prepare for life in Costa Rica. We cover topics such as driving rules and how to get a license in this country, as well as what the public transportation system is like. We also include a link to our page about the cost of living in Costa Rica, and help you understand whether it is expensive or cheap to make this country your new home.

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Updated on: July 01, 2020
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