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Guanacaste, Costa Rica by Joseph Emanuelli

Real information and stories from Guanacaste , Costa Rica. Presneted by a long time expat living and working in Costa Rica
Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Cost of Living and Safety Brings the Baby Boomers

Costa Rica and the Guanacaste region have been recognized as a great retirement location in the tropics. Costa Rica is expecting to attract many more retirees over the next decade, as the majority of Baby Boomers will be hitting retirement age and will be looking for a more affordable and warm place to retire to. I ask visitors and expats all the time, what is it that brings you back and what do you love about Costa Rica? Most times the answer is “the weather”. Costa Rica weather is known for its warm coastal climates and abundance of sunshine.

While the cost to live in Costa Rica is much less than most parts of North America, I have to be honest is not the least expensive in Central America. While having said that, Costa Rica does have a higher quality of lifestyle, better infrastructure and conveniences and a much more socially and politically secure democracy than other Central American countries.

 The #1 reason why, close to 144 million baby boomers that are expected to retire within the next ten years, want to relocate to another country, is that they want to make their money go further.

Your Money Goes Further

Rent in Guanacaste Costa Rica is certainly cheaper than any beach community in North America. The average 3 bedroom, well-appointed condo in the Papagayo area is in the range of $850 to $1200 USD per month and almost all of them feature the benefit of a gated, secure community with amenities to offer.

Buying property is safe and easy in Costa Rica, fee simple as most of North America and expats have the same rights as a Costa Rica citizen. Many foreigners that are not quite ready to retire are taking advantage of the lower property prices that seem to have hit bottom and  many are seeing opportunity for great deals and taking advantage of them now, as the carrying cost to own property in Costa Rica is much less then may places in the world.

Property taxes are so much lower, depending on the area, Costa Rica property taxes are often more than half of that is USA. The average property tax for fully titled property is .25% of the assessed value of the property. So as an example; a nice 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in a expat community costing approximately $250,000 USD, you annual property tax would be $650.00 USD. Now that is cheap!

Another important cost savings is utility costs. A typical three bedroom home with American amenities would cost approximately $100-$250 monthly (depending on how much A/c you require). Water is usually under $40 per month. Cellular phone service is very good throughout the country and costs around $20-$60/month including international calling depending on usage. Cable TV is available throughout most of the country with approx. 15 English channels, as in the major US networks, HBO, CNBC, FOX, FOX NEWS, and a few movie channels. This is all dependent on which service provider is available in your area. The cost for cable and internet with basic service to your home is about $70 per month. Some providers package cable, internet and a VOIP line for approximately $100 per month.

Food costs: Local produce foods such as vegetable, fruit, chick, fish, pork, rice, beans are inexpensive, but imported products are very expensive. Costa Rica’s fruit and vegetables choices are simply amazing. So you like to use Tide laundry detergent? Forget it, use the local Arial for half the price and cheaper than it cost in the States The. Local “cantinas” and “sodas” offer large full course meals from $3 to $8, including beverages and you have many great choices for fine gourmet dining from as low as $20 per person. You just have to know how to shop and where. Go to the fancy North American style grocery store and expect to pay 30% more that where the local Costa Rica resident shops.

I am not going to “Blow Smoke up your Skirt” as the saying goes. Some items are much more expensive here in Costa Rica, like electronics, cars and gasoline. This is due to that fact that all of these products are imported, not manufactured here and the demand for them is not as high as in North America.  As more international companies invest in Costa Rica and start manufacturing in Costa Rica, because of the high educational facture and the low cost of doing business, prices will come down or be equivalent. It is basic supply and demand. Personally it costs me close to 30% less to live in Costa Rica than it did in the US when I take into consideration everything that I spend money on I mean everything.

Costa Rica Healthcare is high quality and offer tremendous savings.

Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America and the country’s public and private health systems have dramatically improved over the past 2 decades and are continuously being upgraded with new hospitals, improvements in training, advanced technology and equipment. Private health care is very affordable and very high quality. There are three main, private hospitals are: Clinica Biblica in San José, CIMA hospital in Escazú and the new CIMA soon to be opened in Guanacaste, and Hospital La Católica in San José-Guadalupe.

The average percent in saving on procedures done in Costa Rica compared to USA medical costs are very impressive. Due to this the surge in Medical tourism has been on the rise over the past couple of years. As an example: Dental Implants 70-80% less than in North America, a facelift costs 25-35% less, a *** lift 35-50% less, a more complicated surgery as in heart bypass will be closer to 60-70% than up north and orthopedic procedures like a hip replacement and orthoscopic knee surgery can be as much 50-60% less and in some cases even greater savaing.

Safety and Security

Costa Rica is listed as one of the safest places in Central America. More than 3,000 police officers have been added to the country since President Laura Chinchilla took office in 2010, raising the total to over 14,000. There are plans to add another 500 patrol vehicles, with the help from free trade agreement with major economic power houses, Like China and up to 2,000 more police officers by 2013.

Costa Rica is known as a very politically stable country compared to other Central American counties. This means that there is far less likelihood of arbitrary rule changes that effect land ownership rights and investments.

For those who looking to retire, invest, or re-invent themselves in Costa Rica, you will find a warm and friendly culture, exotic and unique experiences, and a surprisingly affordable country.

Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2012 10:41 AM by Joseph A. Emanuelli


Cost of Living in Costa Rica - International Living said:

Joseph, this is a great rundown of cost of living in Costa Rica. You hit the nail on the head when you note that living like a local - not like you do back home - will save you a ton of money. I'd add that a great place to go shopping is the "feria," or farmers' market, as well as the Mercado Central. A lot of savings there on fruits and veggies.

# September 12, 2012 11:55 AM
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