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Moving To Costa Rica – Why And How To Do It

Moving To Costa Rica – Why And How To Do It

We all dream of moving abroad to a beautiful paradise, and for many people Costa Rica is the place that they’ve always dreamed of. Perhaps you’ve been there on holiday and want to make it a permanent thing, or you may just be tempted by its reputation as a popular area for expatriates. Whatever your reasons, moving abroad is a big commitment for anyone, and it’s important to ensure you follow the legal requirements and plan ahead.

Tourist visas

Costa Rica allows tourists a 90 day visa, and this allows you time to get a short term rental, see if you like the country, and explore your options for immigration. Some people do the ‘border shuffle’, and leave and re-enter, gaining them another 90 days. However, this is against the spirit of the law, and may upset the authorities, so make sure you get proper legal advice on your options.

Working

In order to get a job in Costa Rica, you’ll need to get something more permanent than a tourist visa, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become a resident. Some times of visa include:

  • Pensionado – A retired person with a lifetime annuity or other guaranteed income. Many US citizens retire to Costa Rica on this scheme.
  • Rentista – If you can show you’ll have a guaranteed income stream, or have a lump sum saved, this kind of visa will cover you for two years.
  • Investors – If you have over $200,000 to invest
  • Representante – Someone with a job which means they need to move to Costa Rica, or someone on a government assignment.

If you’re unsure of the kind of visa you might be eligible for, seek professional legal advice from someone who knows the immigration law in greater detail.

By José R. (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By José R. (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Buying a property

If you’re going for permanent residency, then finding somewhere to live is often high on your priority list. Costa Rica real estate offers good value for money, and there are plenty of options such as houses, condos, beach properties, gated communities, and much more. Some people try a short term stay, perhaps on a tourist visa to allow them to see what life is like in the area, and then commit to buying property. Whatever way you do it, make sure you work with a reputable agency who can ensure you’re protected throughout the process.

Opening a business

For many ambitious expatriates, the thought of opening a business in Costa Rica is extremely attractive, and they assume it will be laid back like the pace of life in much of the country. However, it can be hard work, and as with any job, you need to make sure you fill all legal requirements.

If you are entering the country because you have a large amount to invest, then you can put this into a business or property in exchange for that coveted visa. However, if you’re not quite as wealthy, there are still ways to invest, although you might not be able to work in the business as such. Many expatriates invest in tourism related services, with hotels, diving schools, restaurants and cafes, tour companies, and similar businesses being popular options. Whatever you decide to invest it, make sure you get sound financial advice before you begin, ideally from someone who has worked with Costa Rican businesses in the past.

Costa Rica isn’t just a great holiday destination. It can also be a great place to live, and many visitors decide to make it their home. Although it’s not the easiest country to immigrate to, there are lots of options available; you just need to seek advice on which one is right for you.

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