Frequently Asked Questions
With the onset of Covid-19, may people are seeking safe havens for themselves and their families. Costa Rica should be on the top of your list of potential secure locations. It offers a uniquely safe environment while also providing some of the best natural surroundings anywhere in the world.
QUESTION: How much Covid-19 infection has there been in Costa Rica?
ANSWER: At the outset of Covid-19, Costa Rica was held out as the top nation in preventing the spread of the illness and preventing deaths. There was a negligible infection rate and few deaths from March – July, 2020. The government immediately closed the borders to foreign travelers and instituted a strict driving schedule based on your car’s license plate which served to limit travel about the country. Further, curfews were enacted to limit socialized during evening hours. Beach, park, and recreational facility access was severely curtailed.
Like most countries, Costa Rica began to loosen restrictions in June to allow people to go back to work and restart the economy. This led to an increase in the daily infection rate from about 100 to nearly 1500 per day. This was not that drastic a change as the system for counting infections was changed with counting of everyone in a household as infected (whether they were infected or not) as long as one person was infected. So, the actual increased numbers were not that drastic. The majority of the infections were in the city (due to population density) and the borders where illegal immigration from Nicaragua and Panama brought in more infected persons. As of the end of September, 2020, there had been only 800 total deaths in Costa Rica with most of those being elderly individuals, the lowest mortality rate in all of the Americas (0.86%). A total of 70,000 infection had been reported in the same time period with 27,000 people recovered with a great number of persons counted who remain in infected households and not actually infected at all. Businesses are operating. There have been no food or paper shortages of any kind. In fact, driving restrictions created open highways in the evenings for commercial vehicles to move goods about the country more efficiently than ever. As of September, 2020, people from many U.S. states and foreign countries were again allowed to visit Costa Rica.
Most of the citizens and residents of Costa Rica have adhered to wearing masks indoors and maintained social distancing. No “super spreader” events have occurred.
Mass meetings, sporting/concert events, and schools remain suspended as of September, 2020.
An upside if the Costa Rican health care system which insures 95% of the population with other 5% being privately insured. There is good access to healthcare with specialized facilities to provide Covid care, if needed.
QUESTION: WHAT IS THE OVERALL HEALTH QUALITY IN COSTA RICA?
ANSWER: Costa Rica has an exceptionally high life expectancy. This is so amazing that Costa Rica’s mortality rate for person over the age of 90 is 14% lower than the average of the top 13 high-income countries. Even more unusual is the extraordinarily life expectancy for males, which is substantially less around the world and a half year more than anywhere else in the world. Overall, there is less frailty in the aged Costa Rica population. Much credit is given to the good universal health care available.1
The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica has been designated as a “Blue Zone” where some of the oldest and healthiest people on the planet live. It is common there to outlive 100 years and thrive while doing so. There are only four other blue zones in the world.2
QUESTION: WHAT IS THE COSTA RICAN ECONOMY LIKE?
ANSWER: Costa Rica is defined as an upper middle-income country by the World Bank. Ts growth has resulted from an outward-oriented strategy based on openness to foreign investment and gradual trade liberalization while remaining a leader in environmental preservation. This is expected to pick up again once Covid-19 comes under better control.
QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE COSTA RICA PEOPLE LIKE?
ANSWER: Costa Ricans (or as they call themselves “Ticos”) have a more positive outlook on life than people from many other countries. Their national slogan is “Pura Vida” (“Pure Life”). It is more than just words, but also a lifestyle. Natural living is a focus of many in Costa Rica who believe that living in balance with nature is extremely important. Generally, Costa Ricans are not very interested in political issues or are as money-oriented as their North American counterparts. They take great joy in living for the day and in their family life. There is no “stress culture” as is commonly experienced in the United States.
Costa Ricans are friendly, but tend to be a bit shier than people from North America. Most present just as they are, extremely nice people who want you to enjoy their country. Annually, Costa Rica ranks as one of the “happiest places to live.” Emigration from Costa Rica is very low as its people love the country dearly.
QUESTION: WHAT IS THE COST OF LIVING IN COSTA RICA?
ANSWER: The cost of living in Costa Rica is substantially less than the United States. Since Costa Rica is not driven by a pervasive consumer culture, people live and manage with much less. Costa Rica grows almost all of its own food and is not reliant on imports. Local goods are extremely good and available at low prices. There is a 30% tax on imported goods which make it more expensive for those wanted them. A single person is able to live in Costa Rica on $1500 per month.
QUESTION: WHAT ARE MY WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN COSTA RICA?
ANSWER: Unless you are a permanent resident, you are not permitted to have a job in Costa Rica unless you hired through a special exception (which there are few). Jobs in Costa Rica are reserved for the citizens. For this reason, many foreigners work remotely with their previous home countries to earn income.
There is ample opportunity to own a business in Costa Rica with foreigners contributing nearly 12% of the all economic growth.3 Foreigners are allowed to operate their own business. If you are not a resident, you can’t work within your own business, but must hire Costa Ricans to perform all the work. Once you are a resident, then you can perform work in your own business. There is a thriving “Ex Pat” economy in Costa Rica with foreigners operating many hotels, restaurants, yoga/exercise studios, tourism operations, and the like.
QUESTION: HOW MUCH ARE TAXES IN COSTA RICA?
ANSWER: Taxes are much lower in Costa Rica than in North America or Europe. Costa Rica does not tax individuals on income from a foreign source. Only revenue earned by an individual in Costa Rica is subject to taxation. In contrast, you are exempt from U.S. taxation for foreign-derived income only up to $125,000.00. Self-employment tax from operating your own business ranges from 10 – 25%. Property owners with homes with registered value of less than $230,000.00 A luxury home tax for homes over $230,000.00 is calculated on a sliding scale, ranging from 0.25% – 0.55%. You are also subject to a small municipality fee from the local government for trash pickup. There is a value added tax (VAT), sales tax, of 13% on all goods and services which must be taxed from customers and passed along to the government. There is an annual flat corporate tax as well. Do the numbers and you will see that there are many financial incentives to live in Costa Rica as the cheap taxation rates are a big incentive.
QUESTION : WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO VISIT COSTA RICA?
ANSWER: First, check the U.S. Embassy website for updated information before making your travel plans. For approved states and countries, visitors to Costa Rica are required to under to a PCR-RT test within 72 hours of travel and purchase a travel insurance policy prior to their departure to cover quarantine and medical expenses should a visitor become infected.
QUESTION: WHAT IS THE REAL ESTATE MARKET IN COSTA RICA?
ANSWER: As can be expected, it is a buyer’s market at this time with a large supply of homes and land available. Covid-19 has shut down nearly all new home construction for purchase in pre-planned communities. There is ongoing new home construction for private homes. There are homes available in every area: near the beach, water view, in jungles (dry jungle and rainforest), and in the higher elevation areas where it is much cooler.
You go from the low elevation areas near the beaches which have many palms trees and scrub grass to the higher elevation areas near the volcanoes which have pine trees and thick, green grass. The diversity of plant and animal is the greatest in the world. This allows for many environmental choices for the consumer.
Of course, beach front and beach access properties are the most expensive to obtain. These are not as desirable as commonly thought as all beaches are public and you are not allowed to keep people off them.
Waiting will only result in higher property prices once the economy rebounds. Remember the Ray Brown quote: “The best time to buy a house is always five years ago.” Or, just go by Mark Twain who quipped: “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” There is a large supply of open lots for purchase. You can always build your dream home later.
Costa Rica is a stable democracy with no army since 1948. It is protected through treaties with the United States and Canada. The U.S. Coast Guard routinely patrols the coastline for drug interdiction purposes. Rather than spend money on a military, the Costa Rican government invests into its education and environmental protection. A major result of this is Costa Rica’s energy independence with 95% of all energy derived from renewable resources (solar, wind, water, and geothermal). So, not only is your investment safe, you will be situated in one of the most forward looking countries in the world.
There is very little violent crime in Costa Rica. Handguns are not easily available and most violent crime is drug-related in the heavier populated areas.
HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?
ANSWER: CALL US. We will be happy to assist you with your questions and helping you with your travel to Costa Rica to see this beautiful country and see if you would like to make this your new home.
1Rosero-Bixby, L. The exceptionally high life expectancy of Costa Rican Nonagenerians. Demography. September, 2008; 45(3): 673 – 91.
2Rosero-Bixby, L. The Nicoya region of Costa Rica: A high longevity island for elderly males. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research. January, 2013; 11: 109 – 36.
3OCED. How Immigrants Contribute to Costa Rica’s Economy. 2018.