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Why Costa Rica No Longer Makes Sense As An Overseas Retirement Haven

“Kathleen, I’m wondering why Costa Rica was not included on your recent list of top countries to live/retire in.

“I am really curious as the country is often written up by others.”

–Mary Jane P., United States

Back in the mid-1980s, when I first reported on it, Costa Rica made a lot of sense. It continued to offer an appealing overseas retirement option for North Americans through the 1990s.

Then two things happened:

First, prices appreciated dramatically, both the cost of real estate and the cost of living. But infrastructure didn’t keep pace. The country’s roads and bridges were literally crumbling, and nothing was being done to stand in their way. Pot-holed roads and falling-down bridges in a place that’s really cheap to spend time and to buy property is one thing…but pot-holed roads and falling-down bridges in a place where prices aren’t so cheap is another.

Second, the country did away with most of the benefits of its famed pensionado program.

More recently, something else has happened, as well: Costa Ricans seem to have had their fill of outsiders. At least this has been my sense during visits over the past half-dozen years. Ticos these days continue to welcome our foreign currency…they just don’t seem so welcoming in general anymore.

All that said, the country can and does still make sense for some people for some reasons. San Jose is wholly unappealing in my opinion, but the hills surrounding San Jose offer great weather year-round, making them a good choice if pleasant climate is top of your list of priorities.

Costa Rica, again, specifically, the areas around San Jose, also can make sense for anyone moving with school-aged children, thanks to its several top international-schooling options.

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