Health Care Costs Don’t Concern You
If you are healthy or covered by an affordable health care plan, moving to a country with socialized medicine won’t have an impact on your decision. It’s not free for expats, but access to the Costa Rica health care is very affordable, often less than $100 per month for complete coverage. Yes, there are long wait lists for non-emergency medical treatments. Costa Rica doctors are for the most part, U.S. trained. Outside of San Jose, the hospitals and clinics can be lacking the most basic diagnostic tools. Want a name-brand drug? Probably aren’t going to get it unless you opt to pay for it out-of-pocket.
You Have Lived in the Same Place Forever
You won’t do well adapting to new people and their customs. Think about a person from a big city in the Northeast moving to a small town in the deep south. Language barrier and all. The culture shock can be as drastic.
Many Ticos speak English, especially those that make a living dealing with Gringos. But the teller in the bank probably won’t. Your car mechanic probably won’t. The taxi driver probably won’t. If you don’t learn the language, life in Costa Rica will be much tougher.
Tico Time is another adjustment for many. Type A personalities won’t do well here because the pace is very, very slow.
You Are a Conspicuous Consumer
If you drive a nice shiny late model car and your significant other drives a nice shiny late model car and you have a pickup truck too, it’s going to be difficult for you in Costa Rica. Duties on cars range from 50-80% of the MSRP. That means cars are very expensive – even used ones. Duties on other imports are very high also. If you need the latest version iPhone, it may not even be available in Costa Rica for a year after launch in the states.
You Enjoy Cooking and Fine Dining
Gourmet cooks will be very frustrated upon moving to Costa Rica. After all, the main dish served everywhere is chicken and rice (or some variation.) Pork is plentiful but tough and beef is hard to find and very tough. Fish is variable depending on where you are located in relation to the coasts. But the ocean waters are not very clean and most fish is for export. Other ingredients for the chef can be impossible to find. Spices and cheeses and cooking wines are very scarce.
Fine dining in a restaurant is limited to the resort areas catering to the tourist or San Jose. Otherwise, forget it.
So if you’re thinking about retiring in Costa Rica and none of the above caveats apply to you, make the move. Just know that your life will be much simpler – or much more complicated – depending on what you want and need in retirement.
Above all, the advice is to know yourself – and your significant other if there is one. And communicate what is really important to you before you make the commitment to Costa Rica.
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