This Week in Costa Rica

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This Week in Costa Rica is a weekly, online radio program and podcast by US expat, Dan Stevens

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10 Reasons Why You Should Quit Your Job and Move to Costa Rica

Here at This Week in Costa Rica, we have always been big fans of Josh, Park, and the writing talent at Viva Tropical.  Last week we posted a great article by one of their writers, Camille.  This little piece just lit up on our social sites and we thought it’d be nice to share it with our regular readers.

Viva Tropical

Nationals and residents of Costa Rica seem to all share one integral thing: a deep love for the country that surrounds them. Native Costa Ricans, expats, and even travelers who have spent time in this land of monkeys, waterfalls, and surfing, speak about the area with deep admiration and pride.

Arturo Sotillo

Arturo Sotillo

Costa Rica has become one of the most popular places in the world for North American retirees and expats to relocate. What exactly is it about this beautiful country that lures people to pack their belongings and invest their lives there?

Here is our list of the top ten reasons that inspire many people to make the move to Costa Rica.

1. Stunning Nature Abounds

Costa Rica is literally covered in natural wonders. It has epic volcanoes with spewing lava that create natural hot springs you can soak in. It has tall mountains you can climb to see the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

It has hundreds of miles of shoreline varying from black to pink to gold to white. It has dolphins and whales for you to watch on and off shore. The sea varies from enormous waves for exciting surfing to calm and still for snorkeling and diving.

The land is covered in old growth trees, swaying palms, and beautiful flowers. Rushing rivers and waterfalls flow through mangrove forests or reveal themselves deep in the jungle.

Animals take refuge in the lush landscape and the Osa Peninsula is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Howler monkeys live in the trees in your backyard. Sloths cross the road causing traffic jams. Toucans and scarlet macaws fly over your head.

Costa Rica is easily one of the most magical and beautiful countries on Earth.

2. Great Healthcare is Affordable

Healthcare is top-of-the-line and inexpensive, which has brought a new kind of tourism to the country: medical tourism. Hospitals in the capital of San Jose offer world-class care. Procedures including dental work, surgeries, and more are available at a fraction of the cost of the U.S. and are extremely high quality.

Costa Rican citizens receive free healthcare and residents can pay a low fee to join the national healthcare program. Private healthcare plans are incredibly affordable starting at around $50 per month. Even the out-of-pocket medical costs for those with no coverage is staggeringly low compared to the U.S.

3. Comfortable Climate Year Round

While there is a distinct wet and dry season in most of the country, temperatures on both coasts average between the high 70s and low 80s year round. Even in the rainy season there is typically some sunshine every day. This comfortable weather allows you to enjoy outdoor activities and nature every day of the year.

4. Its Proximity to North America

The capital city of San Jose is an airport hub for flights to North America and has inexpensive, direct flights to major cities in the U.S. including Houston, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, and New York. These flights often cost less than national flights across country. This makes it easy to stay close to family, have visitors, and run home to stock up on certain comforts that can’t be found in Central America.

5. The Established Expat Community

Because Costa Rica has been popular among expats for years it has a well-established supportive community in most of the coastal towns as well as in San Jose. These communities have created excellent schools for children, health-focused stores, markets, restaurants and cafes, and other practices like yoga, pilates, and bodywork.

The communities are very supportive and make integration into a new country much easier. Living in a small town with like-minded people, you may even find yourself in a closer community than the one you were in back home.

6. A Healthy Lifestyle

Eating less processed foods and more local fruits and vegetables, being outside with nature every day, and using your body to achieve more tasks are all changes that take place for most people who move to Costa Rica. Many report losing weight because they become much more physically active.

The slower-paced lifestyle and immersion in nature help one to fully relax which is incredibly health beneficial. Not to mention, outside of the city there is much less pollution and toxic fumes than cities in North America.

Want to get yourself, and your money, out of the USA? 

Want to get yourself, and your money, out of the USA? 

7. The Stable Government and Economy

Costa Rica abolished its army in 1950 and has kept its spot as one of the most stable democracies in the world since then. It is the only country in Latin America to make the list.

The economy is also experiencing steady growth with greater foreign investments as well as tourism which bodes well for those looking to invest in the country.

8. Kind, Generous Local Culture

Local Costa Ricans, Ticos, are some of the most hospitable, nature-loving, peace-oriented people on earth. They love their country and are welcoming to tourists and expats who love it too. Costa Rica has a 95% literacy rate and nationals are highly educated.

Raised in an amazing ecological environment, most are quite knowledgeable on plant medicine, wildlife, and other aspects of nature that many people in North America never study.

The smaller coastal towns tend to have very integrated communities where locals, long-term tourists, and residents are friends. It’s also fairly common for families to be multicultural with one local Costa Rican parent and one foreign parent.

Be sure to listen to our weekly podcast!

Be sure to listen to our weekly podcast!

9. Outdoor Adventure Opportunities

With unlimited hiking trails, white water rafting, excellent swells for surfers, rivers for kayaking, and standup paddleboarding, Costa Rica is an adventure lovers dream. High adrenaline activities are very popular here including ziplining and bungee jumping. In Costa Rica, even a simple walk on your nearby beach can become an adventure.

10. The Pura Vida Lifestyle

What may truly set Costa Rica apart from the rest of Central America is its dedication to the words “pura vida”. Pura vida is more than a phrase, it is a way of life. When locals say “pura vida” it is a reminder to themselves and the rest of the world to relax, let things go, and be grateful for what you have.

Isn’t that why most people get off the grid after all?

It may not be the place for everyone, but Costa Rica is an exceptional option for anyone looking to live abroad in Latin America. These are just a few of the many reasons to move here.


We spoke with Josh Linnes about living as an expat here in Costa Rica.  That interview can be found below.

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Freedom: the #1 Reason Why People Move to Central America

That First Taste of Free Air

You feel it the moment you step out of the airport, and are busy cruising down the highway to your destination.  It’s not just in the traffic that crosses double yellow lines or ignores stop lights if the road is clear.  It’s in the vehicles themselves; sometimes crowded to the maximum, with luggage tied to the top, sometimes appearing to be tied up just to keep the vehicle together.

Maybe you’ll notice a truck filled with workers or one that has a hammock swinging lazily in back, with the occupant blissfully taking in the sunlight.  The buses lumber by, so packed, passengers cling to the door frames.  If you brave one of these second-class, local buses, you might feel you’re in a barnyard.  Chickens squawk from crates packed under the seat, and there might even be a goat or a lamb that somebody’s transporting to the market.

It’s a reminder of how America was before seat belt laws and strict traffic regulations, before traffic citations became profitable.  If you have someplace to go, nobody cares about the means you use of getting there.

Slowing Down

Outside the city hubs, vehicles are relatively sparse. The most common mode of transportation is by bus. Pedestrians, farmers pushing along a few cows, wash women with piles of clothing on their heads are not an uncommon sight along rural roads.

This daily life, so unencumbered by appointments and punching a clock, begins to seep into you. You find yourself hurrying less and relaxing more, spending time doing those things you’ve always dreamed of doing, but never found the time or the opportunity. You begin to think about your new found freedom, that began with a freedom from worry.

The Economic Race

It seems odd that so many of the citizens who are immigrating from the United States into Central America are doing so out of a longing for freedom, but sadly enough, as a country founded on the liberties of all people, it has become a system of rules and regulations designed to give advantages and privileges to some, while penalizing and suppressing the many.

That hectic pace felt so distinctly in urbanized America is the desperate measure of a people determined to keep their heads above water. The American dream for many married couples, of a fine little home and a two-car garage, can’t possibly be realized unless both are working and they take out a twenty year loan. Those over sixty who had been planning to enjoy the benefits of their golden years, find their retirement or social security checks just aren’t enough, and take on part-time jobs for which they are over-qualified, but too financially distressed to refuse.

Then there are the young singles, working hard and studying for a degree that may not be very helpful for finding work. Jobs that had once taken an associate’s degree, now take a master’s, and debt-strapped students wallow in student loans.

When Life Becomes Stifling

The opportunities once offered in America don’t seem so plentiful anymore. Innovation, imaginative ideas, are either swallowed in a maelstrom of bureaucratic paperwork, or take a long time to mature, making the process uncomfortable for non-entrepreneurial types. For every proposal, no matter how universally beneficial, there is opposition. The red tape ticks away at finances, valuable time, and eventually, motivation.

America can barely breathe. You cannot even build a porch for your house, on your own property, without permits and inspectors. In some communities, there are agreed-upon house colors, and regulations concerning what you may have in your yard. You may discover you don’t even have a right to grow a garden instead of a water wasting lawn. The attempts to create a uniform standard of living within specified zones has swept away the concept that one’s home is one’s castle. The spirit of these rules makes sense, they are for the benefit of environment, home prices, and people’s safety, but in today’s world the rules are wielded like weapons against creativity and individuality.

You’re as Free as Your Neighbor

The migration into Central America is made up of people who have grown weary with asking for permission. The safety net hovering over American social affairs feels more like an entrapment net, encumbering freedom of travel with security checks and invasive techniques, such as airport scans and cell phone tracking.

Homes and small businesses are regulated with so many expensive codes and mandatory health care. The U.S. constituents are strapped with so many liability laws, they become nervous about allowing the neighbor kids to come over and play on a trampoline.

Coping with Drawbacks

The expats have had to make some adjustments. In an area where there is little to no regulation, cities can turn ugly fast, while everybody builds whatever they want and a smorgasbord of buildings go up. If your neighbor wants to begin his day at six in the morning, banging away at his new addition, and you want to sleep until seven, it’s best to just roll over with your pillow.

While the cities offer the modern conveniences, the farther away you are from them, the fewer commodities, such as super consistent electricity, paved roads, libraries, and U.S. foods you’ll find. You may find a lower quality in many of the common household tools, such as for gardening or carpentry.

There is a role reversal once you are an expat. You are suddenly a minority in a foreign country. You’ll feel subjected to the same type of scrutiny as given any minority. You may get pulled over just because you look like a gringo. If you are aspiring to become a global citizen, this actually aids in perspective. Outside the dynamics of the western world, you are a minority.

You Still Feel Freer than You Did in the United States

There is an enormous amount of satisfaction in living and breathing freely, without the rigid controls over an over-regulated government. It’s a learning experience in getting along with others of different cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. It allows you ample opportunities for evaluating your own beliefs. It teaches you resourcefulness with the tools and materials on hand.

For the health-oriented, it becomes advantageous to acquire a taste for the native foods. This isn’t too hard, considering the volume of fresh tropical fruits and delicious sea fare that abound in Central America’s market. Not only do you benefit from the organics, but buying local is cheaper than the shipped-in U.S. market.

The Growing Family of Expats

Families make up a vital force in the expat community. Sometimes, they come down for a year to absorb the cultural setting or as a reprieve from restrictive American life. Sometimes, they arrive with more permanent intentions in mind.

The challenge for these families, if they remain within a residential area removed from the major cities, is finding good schools. But like pioneers, they draw upon their own resourcefulness, enjoying the opportunity to educate their children in the manner they feel is best, maybe even starting their own school.

As We Look Forward

It is, in every sense, a type of pioneering. The expats that settle in Central America don’t hate their country. They hate the limits placed on their abilities to make conscious choices. They no longer wish to be treated like a kid, they trust their own ability to decide what is best.

They know this freedom comes with a price. They are moving into a different culture with different customs. They must depend on their own abilities to cope with change, to problem solve, to develop good relationships with others, but it’s all part of the excitement, the adventure. These are the stimuli for growth and development, the fundamentals of increased awareness, and the reward is an evolving society, ready to explore the new boundaries of individual rights and harmonious communities.

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