Costa Rica is a country in Central America. It is a democracy known for its stability in a region that has some political instability. It has a highly educated workforce. Most people in the country can speak or understand English.
Costa Rica is safe for expats as well as locals.
Violent crimes here is rare. The capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, has a safety index of 46.86. Other cities in the country are comparatively safer. It is one of Latin America’s most peaceful nations. The nation constitutionally abolished its army permanently in the 1940s.
Living in Costa Rica
Costa Rica became a popular nature travel destination since the late 1980's. Its main competitive advantage is its well-established system of national parks and protected areas. This covers around 23.4% of the country's land area. It is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. From rain forests, to dry tropical and temperate forests, to volcanoes, to Caribbean and Pacific beaches, to high mountains, and marshy lowlands the country has a diverse culture, climates and landscapes.
By the early 1990s, Costa Rica had become the face of ecotourism.
Costa Rica is ranked as the most expensive country in Central America and perhaps in the whole of Latin America among budget travelers and increasingly among ordinary tourists.
The cost of living in Costa Rica is quite low compared to the USA.
One person can live on between $1,400 and $ 1,700 a month.
Costa Ricans, or Ticos are proud of their little slice of heaven. The everyday easy going rhythms go to the heart of Costa Rica’s appeal – its simple yet profound ability to let people relax and enjoy their time. With the highest quality of life in Central America, all the perfect waves, sunsets and beaches seem like the 'pura vida' indeed.
Politics in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a presidential, representative democratic republic with a multiparty system. The president and his cabinet exercise executive power.
The President of Costa Rica is both the head of state and head of government.
It is a republic with a strong system of constitutional checks and balances. In Costa Rica voting is compulsory but it is not enforced.
While Costa Rica has no military it maintains a domestic police force and a Special Forces Unit as part of the Ministry of the President.
In comparison to other Latin American Presidents, the President of Costa Rica has limited powers. For example, he cannot veto the legislative budget. At the same time, he can appoint anyone to the cabinet without any approval from Congress.
Costa Rica Economy
Once heavily dependent on agriculture, its economy has diversified to include sectors such as finance, corporate services for foreign companies, pharmaceuticals, and ecotourism. Many foreign companies in both manufacturing and services sectors operate in Costa Rica's Free Trade Zones (FTZ) where they benefit from investment and tax incentives.
The country has been considered to be economically stable with moderate inflation.
The country's primary concerns are growing debt and budget deficit. This is a primary reason why the major credit rating agencies have downgraded Costa Rica’s risk ratings.
Although 20.5% of the population lives below the poverty line (2017), Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Central America.
Buying or Renting Property in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, buying property is a fairly transparent process. Property can be owned outright in your own name or in the name of your corporation. You do not need a local partner, except in cases of beachfront concession property, where special rules apply.
Foreigners have the same rights when purchasing land in Costa Rica as locals do, unlike some other countries.
It is recommended that you rent before you buy. Stay awhile in your new house or condo, before you put down money for it and see if it suits your needs. You might find that although you have always dreamed of living on the beach, a few months of the heat and humidity is rather uncomfortable. You might also discover that you prefer one town or neighbourhood over another. If you buy, it’s much harder to make the transition.
Visa and Immigration
Schools in Costa Rica
Costa Ricans feel that what sets them apart from other less fortunate countries in the world is their high education level.
Costa Rica has a literacy rate of 93%, which is one of the highest in Latin America.
In most areas public schools are available, but these generally offer instruction only till the 9th grade as required by law for children ages 6-14. Some of the larger communities have private Montessori or Catholic schools, which offer instruction to the 11th grade and the National Baccalaureate.
Primary education takes 6 years while high school might be 5 or 6 years depending on the school and which degree/degrees are offered.
There are three types of diplomas offered in Costa Rica and this will vary with each school.
- The Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education. (MEP) This is the National Baccalaureate/Diploma of Costa Rica.
- The International Baccalaureate Diploma, accredited by the IBO in Geneva, Switzerland.
- USA High School Diploma, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
Expats usually prefer sending their children to IB schools. Here’s a list of international schools in Costa Rica for you to choose from.
Weather in Costa Rica
There is an alpine spine through the middle of the country which divides Costa Rica in half. The Caribbean side has wet, humid forests while the pacific side has dry forests.
The year is divided into two seasons, a rainy and dry season.
The rainy season runs from May to November and temperatures remain above 70°F or 20°C, except in the mountains where it may drop to 40°F or 4°C. Occasionally, the temperature falls below 0°C.
The dry season runs from December to April and this is the most popular tourist season. The temperatures stay above 70°F or 20°C and reach 90°F or 30°C on a very hot day, especially at the coast. The temperature in the mountainous areas hover between 40-50°F or 5-10°C.
Unlike many other countries on the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is at little risk of hurricanes.
Contact Us for Moving into, or out of Costa Rica
We specialize in International Moves and have over 3000 corporate clients worldwide.
Do read our Blog for tips and articles on how to make your moving experience smoother.