Sunday, August 15, 2010

Costa Rica Expats Dos and Don'ts: Rules for Expats Moving to Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been named by many as the "Richest Country on Earth."

Depending on how you evaluate wealth and being rich, the national rankings could differ. As for me however health, personal wellness and daily enjoyment are extremely important - no amount of money in the world could replace these and make me happy.

If living healthy, peacefully, happily and less expensively is important to you; then you owe it to yourself to check out Costa Rica.

As a world traveler who has been to 60 countries (including Costa Rica) and lived in several continents, allow me to provide some fast facts and do and don'ts for expats moving to Costa Rica.

If you want the good news first, scroll down further to hear why Costa Rica is an awesome and first class place to live! But let's assume you've already heard great things about Costa Rica, but want to know some more things to be alert of.

1. Know and work with someone who lives in Costa Rica, not just someone who visits there.

As it pertains to real estate, I only work with my trusted and tried team of Realtors in Costa Rica within my global association of ethical professionals.

Here is why. The only place I ever had someone attempt to steal my rental car (out of the 60 countries where I have traveled) was in Costa Rica. This happened within an hour of me arriving and securing the car.

For a detailed story as to the Costa Rican banditos modus operandi, write me and I will both tell and provide you wise counsel as to how to avoid such traps overseas.

2. When buying real estate in Costa Rica, work with a real estate professional who has his TRC (Transnational Referral Certificate) and CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) who understands the nuances of property rights and laws in Costa Rica and the country from which you originate.

As a global real estate professional the TRC and CIPS training was the best professional training I have had thus far and greatly empowered me to deal with expats, foreign buyers, properties abroad, legal matters, cross-cultural concerns and much more!

3. Never assume anything when buying property.

Costa Rica has squatter laws (which hopefully in due time shall be revised or done away with in full), which means if someone has been squatting on land or property you just bought, you may have some legal battles ahead of you to remove the longtime squatters from your land or property.

4. Take extra precautions to secure your property and yourself.

As my surfer friends who live in Costa Rica have told me, you must realize the Costa Rican police can be bribed and given to corruption. Furthermore in some parts of Costa Rica far from the cities, the police may be nonexistent or not ever bother coming when you call.

Hence many of the 100,000 Americans living in Costa Rica secure their own homes with alarm systems, dogs, electric fences, jagged glass and barbed wire atop the fences and own guns to provide further reinforcement if necessary.

Now for the benefits as to why Costa Rica is a fantastic place to live both for expats and families.

1. Costa Rica's health care system is affordable.

Costa Rica's health care has been said to be equal to that of the United States and far less expensive without the red tape of insurance companies and legal loopholes for insurers unwilling to pay for your health care.

Socialized medicine has gotten a bad rap, but the fact of the matter is when you need health care - humans in need don't care about government ideology. They just want immediate health care and that without a stack of legal documents, interrogations about health insurance and rude medical receptionists that dehumanize them.

Costa Rica works differently. Insurance co-pays and deductibles are not the norm. Hence the costs of health care are substantially lower and far less aggravating then in corporation nation (the United States).

Since Costa Rica has no standing military, Costa Rica invests its money into education, health care, infrastructure and its people rather than war.

It has been said Costa Ricans live longer than people in most countries on earth, being second only to Canadians.

2. Real estate is reasonably priced in Costa Rica.

You can rent a quality place near the beach for $600 a month in Costa Rica. Often with a bit of negotiation you can get a home to rent that is fully furnished, including internet and lawn maintenance. For only $1,000 a month you can rent a home on the beach.

Many expats buy homes in Costa Rica to enjoy during the cold winter months and then rent during the rest of the year as a source of rental income.

3. Costa Rica is a healthy place to live!

"Pura vida!" is the mantra often heard throughout Costa Rica - meaning pure life!

Undoubtedly this is no exaggeration as Costa Rica has an amazing tropical rain forest, lush green mountains, incredible volcanoes, gorgeous beaches (without all the shark attacks in Florida) with warm water, delicious food, a lively nightlife and far less legalistic society.

Since stress is the number one killer (as stated by Dr. Oz) and premature ager, it is a wise investment to reduce stress whenever possible in your life.

As a world traveler myself, living abroad where I can more easily stretch a dollar certainly is the first way to reduce stress for me.

Clean air and water thereafter are vitally important, which Costa Rica has both of in plenteous supply.

You won't find excessive chlorine, chemical additives and immune depleting flouride in Costa Rica's water supply. The air quality is also very good and invigorating.

The Costa Rica government is also committed to using renewable energy sources. American University and the University of Peace in Costa Rica have a sustainable development program that is receiving international praise and recognition.

4. Costa Rica is a friendly place to live!

I have traveled from Mexico to Argentina and Latinos in general (not to generalize while generalizing in a positive fashion) are very friendly people. Even more so in Costa Rica - a land surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean.

Let's face it! People in warm climates are typically warmer socially. Costa Rica doesn't disappoint.

I was shocked at how trusting the local Costa Rican guy was in Jaco to let me rent his surfboard - requiring no deposit, just my U.S. drivers license.

Excessive contracts and legalities don't permeate the culture. Certainly good for sizeable real estate purchases, but not in every minute detail of everyday life.

Since Costa Rica is predominately Catholic and Christian, heartfelt charity abounds and the people are given to family life that cultivates a sense of community.

5. It is relatively easy and fast to start a business in Costa Rica.

With 100,000 American expats in Costa Rica and foreigners from elsewhere around the world, the business landscape is welcoming of foreigners and isn't overly interested in impeding economic progress.

Hence Costa Rica is a marvelous place for business owners - small and large alike.

There is so much more I can share, but I think it is time to wrap it up for now. You can contact me for further info about renting, buying and living in Costa Rica!

info @
Wright Choice Realty Inc.

Paul F. Davis is a Global Properties Consultant, Green Homes Adviser and Debt Arbitrator for financial freedom.

Paul is the author of 18 books and a worldwide speaker who has touched 60 countries building bridges cross-culturally by joyfully disarming and empowering people throughout the earth to transcend their limitations and live their dreams!

Earn 20% commissions on all paid speaking engagements and life coaching Paul obtains through your referral and recommendation.

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