Costa Rica has long been a popular tourist destination, attracting more crowds than neighboring countries thanks to its incredible wildlife, natural attractions, and abundance of tours and activities. Those who are looking for a retirement destination are attracted to the country's well-established infrastructure, low crime rates, and excellent healthcare – and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The quality of life in Costa Rica is excellent, and, in fact, the more one learns about the Central American country, the more appealing it becomes as a retirement destination. Consider these winning factors and you'll quickly see why so many ex-pats choose retirement in Costa Rica:
It ranks #1 on the Happy Planet Index.
The Happy Planet Index measures "the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them." The index judges life expectancy, experienced well-being, and ecological footprint and ranks more than 150 countries. Costa Rica has often been ranked #1 thanks to its superior scores in all three categories.
The climate can't be beat.
Costa Rica has a generally mild climate that is consistently pleasant. There are no snow or ice storms to worry about, even at the highest elevations. Individual microclimates throughout the country ensure those who retire in Costa Rica can find the ideal temperature and humidity level for their tastes. In the Central Valley, for example, temperatures average around 72 to 78 degrees.
Sun seekers can head to either the Pacific or Caribbean coast and enjoy warmer temperatures in the 80s all year long. Retirees can choose nearly daily rainfall in the lush green tropical zone near the Osa Peninsula or opt for the dry Guanacaste region where rain showers are generally limited to June through November and are much more predictable.
Quality, affordable healthcare is widespread.
Costa Rica has a comprehensive healthcare system that provides care to residents nationwide. Known as the "Caja," this system to open to expats who are seeking residency, and in fact may be a requirement to obtain residency. Those who seek healthcare and medical facilities comparable to those found in the U.S. are pleased to visit one of Costa Rica's private hospital systems, including CIMA in Escazú, Clínica Bíblica and La Catòlica in San Jose, and San Rafael Arcángel in Liberia.
These world-class medical facilities offer every department and type of service one could need, ranging from routine check-ups to CAT scans to complex surgeries. Due to the lower cost of health care in Costa Rica, medical tourism is on the rise, and how now become the second-largest industry in Costa Rica.
Its time zone is compatible with the United States.
The time zone in Costa Rica is Central Standard Time, or five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Savings Time, setting the country just one or two hours behind Eastern Standard Time all year long. Because its time is always comparable to any of the time zones in the U.S., expats who reside there don't have to worry about when to call family and friends in the States. Travel is easier, too, since you don't need to worry about jet lag.
It is a short flight away from the United States.
Though it may feel like you're far, far away from life in the U.S., the reality is that you're just a few hours away by plane when you're in Costa Rica. Flights are not only easy to find, but they're also very affordable. Roundtrip tickets can routinely be found between $500 and $800–sometimes even less. Not only do retirees have the option of easily and affordably traveling to the U.S., but friends and family will want to reciprocate.
Natural beauty surrounds you, no matter where you settle down.
Costa Rica's natural beauty cannot be denied. From beaches to mountains to rain forest, this Central American country has it all. Even city dwellers can drive just 20 minutes out of town and arrive at stunning waterfalls or a mountaintop town with incredible views. Spotting wildlife is a party of daily life in Costa Rica. From a pack of coatimundi along the side of the road to a pair of scarlet macaws snacking in a beach almond tree, you don't have to look hard to see why people around the world are attracted to Costa Rica.
You don't need to speak Spanish.
English-only speakers appreciate how prevalent the language is in Costa Rica, especially in businesses dedicated to tourism. Thanks to the many thriving expat communities throughout the country, you won't have any trouble making new friends without worrying about a language barrier. Expats can feel comfortable ordering at restaurants, visiting the doctor, and living their day-to-day lives without speaking a word of Spanish if they so choose. Not to worry if you do feel like practicing your Spanish though–there's no shortage of opportunities to do so.
Finally, you can do it all in Costa Rica. Whether you dream of a peaceful retirement spent relaxing on the beach or an adventurous life full of exploration and activity, you can choose nearly anything in Costa Rica. From beachfront luxury homes to remote jungle retreats to urban residences in the heart of the action, you're sure to find your dream property in Costa Rica. Don't let its small size fool you–Costa Rica offers you everything you could ask for.