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Moving to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small tropical country in Central America, known for its beautiful beaches, tropical climate and year-round pleasant weather. Not only is it relatively affordable, but the country also offers a fine quality of life. It's no wonder why many individuals are deciding to trade in their ordinary lives to make Costa Rica their new home. 

Are you considering moving to Costa Rica from the US? We're here to help you plan and prepare for the journey ahead on how to move to Costa Rica from the USA.

Why Move to Costa RicaForest and Volcano Mountain in Costa Rica

There are many advantages to moving from the USA to Costa Rica. For starters, Costa Rica is significantly more affordable. You can expect to pay less for almost every day, including housing, groceries and everyday essentials. 

Costa Rica also offers a high quality of life and better work-life balance. Some of the other advantages of moving to Costa Rica include:

Beautiful Landscapes and Outdoor Adventures

You'll find that Costa Rica is filled with breathtaking views everywhere you go. The country is perfectly positioned on the coast, so you'll find great beaches on both sides of the country. Some of the most noteworthy beaches include:

  • Playa Conchal
  • Playa Flamingo
  • Isa Tortuga
  • Playa Hermosa 
  • Punta Uva

If you want to spend a day more inland, you can explore the rainforest, waterfalls and rivers. Some of the best places to visit are:

  • La Fortuna Waterfall 
  • Tortuguero National Park
  • Arenal Volcano
  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens 
  • Corcovado National Park

After you move to Costa Rica from the USA, you can spend your weekends exploring these different parts of the country. 

Better Quality of Life

Once you move to Costa Rica from the USA, you'll find the culture and lifestyle exceptionally different. The limitless outdoor adventures, great weather and breathtaking views provide a next-level quality of life. Costa Rica also ranks number 12 on the happiness index. Which is significantly higher than most major countries, including the USA. 

Tropical Weather

Costa Rica's weather is relatively mild year-round. The best weather is between May and November, which is considered the dry season. You can expect temperatures to be around 70 to 89 degrees. December to April is the rainy season. However, even though it rains more, you can still explore the different outdoor activities and attractions in the rain!

Moving to Costa Rica Checklist

Before you pack your bags and move to Costa Rica from the USA, you must plan accordingly. A ton goes into a legal international move, so you should have a checklist you can follow during the process. Here's how you can prepare for moving to Costa Rica from America.

How to Move Your Belongings Internationally

First, you want to decide how long you plan to stay in Costa Rica. If you plan to move on a tourist VISA for 30-90 days, look into storage solutions in your area. If you're moving to Costa Rica permanently, you may want to bring some of your belongings. The process of getting your belongings across state lines can be tricky. We recommend working with an international moving company like North American Van Lines to help you navigate customs and properly pack your items to arrive safely.

At North American Van Lines, we have safe, secure and affordable storage units in most major cities in the United States. We can also help you prepare your belongings to move overseas if you apply for permanent residence. 

Get the Proper Documents (VISA)

Anyone moving to Costa Rica from the USA must apply for a visa if they plan to live there for more than 90 days. Tourist visas last 90 days. After 90 days, you can leave the country and re-enter to restart a new 90-day stay. 

If you're looking for a more permanent option, there are several different immigration programs and VISAS you can apply for to gain residency. The most popular programs include:

  • The Pensionada Program
  • The Rentista Program
  • Digital nomad VISA

Most programs require that you prove you have a steady monthly income of at least $1,000 - $5,000. We recommend reviewing the different programs to find which works best for you. 

Decide What Area to Live

Once you secure your VISA, you'll want to explore the different cities and weigh the pros and cons. You'll find that most of the communities are very affordable and offer quick access to outdoor attractions. Some of the most livable cities include:

  • Libera 
  • Limon
  • Puntarenas
  • San Jose
  • Jaco

Look into Health Insurance

Costa Rica has an excellent health care and medical system. If you're staying on a tourist VISA, you'll want to apply for international insurance to ensure you're covered during the duration of your stay. If you apply for residency, you'll want to look into CAJA or use a private health insurance provider.

Start Looking for a Job

Moving to Costa Rica can be relatively easy for digital nomads and individuals with remote jobs. If you want to apply for a job in Costa Rica, you'll need to wait until you gain permanent residency. Many expats find it challenging to find a job in Costa Rica, especially if they don't speak Spanish. Instead, consider looking into remote opportunities that allow you to travel and relocate to Costa Rica. So you can maintain a steady stream of income.

Secure your Finances

Once you establish residency, you can open a bank account in Costa Rica. Each bank has different requirements. For the most part, you'll need to provide:

  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of Income
  • Utility Bill With Your Address
  • Add a Minimum Deposit

The process can be challenging for foreigners, so give yourself plenty of time to go through the process and gather the documentation.

Learn to Speak the Local Language

The local language of Costa Rica is Spanish. If you've never taken a Spanish course, consider enrolling in an in-person class. This way, you can practice speaking Spanish with other individuals and truly learn the intricacies of the language. There are also many apps and online tools that can help you sharpen your Spanish-speaking skills every day.

Get an International Driving Permit

If you’re an American moving to Costa Rica, the last thing you'll want to do is apply for an international driving permit. If you have an American driving license, you'll need an international driving permit to translate your current license into Spanish.

This process can also be completed online. However, the legal driving age in Costa Rica is 21, and the driving rules may vary, so you must read through them before getting on the road.

Need help moving to Costa Rica from the US? Contact us today to learn more about our international moving services.