Guest post by Jason Mueller
Jason moved to Costa Rica 4.5 years ago and is loving the ‘pura vida” lifestyle. He spends most of his time working at his adventure business in Costa Rica www.jacoropes.com.
Some people have asked, why in the world would a person want to move to Costa Rica from the U.S.? The hundreds, thousands even, expats living in this beautiful country would gladly tell you that there are numerous reasons for making a move to Costa Rica. Between having a decent cost of living and good medical care, Costa Rica is one of the best countries worldwide for expats to move to. In this luscious country, you can find a healthy mix of social activities and a busy city life as well as serene locations where one can be alone in peace and quiet with the ocean, rural settings, mountains and jungles and so much more.
Making Your Move
When it comes to a country greeting foreigners with open arms, Costa Rica is the perfect location when one is looking for a home that welcomes them. The crime rate is low, the educational system is good and healthcare is modern. While many locals, and especially the several thousand or so of American expats in the country speak English, it’s a good idea to learn Spanish, at least enough to communicate about general topics including directions and dinner recommendations.
Choice of Home Locations
When you try to determine which area of the country to live in, you may want to know that although Costa Rica is small (think, nearly as large as South Carolina, but not quite that big) the climates can vary from one location to another just as they can in the U.S. Towards the coast is going to see hotter temperatures and less rain while closer inland and into the jungles and mountains the temperatures may drop a little and you might see some rainy days.
Quite a few people prefer living where there is plenty of shopping, large medical facilities and a great deal of things to do socially. If that is you, you may prefer living near San Jose’ in the Central Valley. Living farther away from the large cities you are going to find that shopping is slim and when it comes to having a social life, it may be non-existent unless you enjoy bonding with nature and wildlife. On top of that, you won’t find a wealth of things to do nor will you find great access to mass transportation if you want to travel into the city to shop or meet friends.
A great idea when you are considering a move to Costa Rica is to rent a home rather than buy one when you first arrive. This way, you can check the local neighborhoods out and see which one really suits your lifestyle best. Having the right real estate agent to help you in your home search is going to mean the difference between finding the perfect home, and finding one you may end up trying to leave in a hurry. When you find the right one, you may want to consider purchasing. In Costa Rica, you should be able to find a home and live in comfort with an income level of around $2000 USD monthly. Some live happily on less but it is really about your personal preferences and the lifestyle you enjoy.
Bringing Your Personal Belongings
When you fly to Costa Rica, you will be able to have your luggage with you. Be sure to carefully pack what you can to take on the plane as you can bring luggage in without having to pay taxes on the contents. If you have already arranged to stay long-term and need to have furniture, you’re going to find that it may cost more than in the U.S. Many rental homes are furnished, but most people like to have some of their personal mementos and smaller furnishings to feel comfortable. To bring your household goods, you need to hire a shipper to move overseas to Costa Rica. You must pay import duties on them and must make a detailed packing list for customs. You’ll have to pay for a container or small crates to be shipped and it’s best to make sure you really need the items as it can be costly to ship because of the taxes.
Should You Bring Your Car?
Bringing a personal car is a decision that needs to be carefully considered. If you own a car that is common in Costa Rica and is perhaps a few years old, then by all means, it may be very beneficial to bring it over. This is especially true for those staying long-term. Many people ship their vehicles over to save money as cars in Costa Rica can be expensive to buy as they typically hold their value well over the years. The disadvantage to buying a used car here is that many of the local used cars are not in the best of shape and you never know when you may be purchasing a bad car. Shipping a car can be very expensive as tax rates for customs can range anywhere from 50% to 75% based on the car value. The actual shipment cost may be low, but when you have a $20,000 car, your import taxes may cost you an additional $15,000. If you own an older car or one that you bought for a low price, even with the additional taxes it may be wise to ship, especially if the car is mechanically sound as you will want a dependable car to drive.
How Car Shipping Works
When it comes to shipping a car to Costa Rica, you are going to have to have the help of a professional car shipping company. As an American, you may consider calling a U.S. based company to schedule everything, and that will be fine. You may want to think about contacting a Costa Rica based company first however so they can work with the American based company to arrange the shipment. A U.S. based car shipping company who has been in the vehicle shipping industry for over 20 years, will work with the Costa Rican companies to ensure that the shipment of the vehicle goes smoothly. You are going to want to start making shipment plans a few weeks ahead of the time you need to have the car and will need to provide customs with some vital information including:
- Car Title
- Car Registration
- Import Tax payment
- Passport for Identification
The more prepared you are, the quicker the car can ship over and be released by customs for you to drive.
When you want more out of life than the standard humdrum of your office or the usual sights you see in the U.S., considering a move to Costa Rica and the many great things you will find in this country is going to be one of the best decisions you may make. Even if you can only stay for a short time, Costa Rica has so much to offer and you are going to be able to see firsthand what an incredible quality of life you can have if you make the move.