There is no doubt that as soon as most people set foot on a beach somewhere in Costa Rica, thoughts of ‘how can I move down here?’ start entering your mind and with New Year’s resolutions on the horizon, I think there will be even more people considering such a lifestyle change. I am such an example, having decided to move here whilst on a trip around the world with my husband and two children. We were so unprepared for what came with our seemingly easy decision that we still have a container of ‘stuff’ back home in the UK. Should you feel the need to give up one life and start building another down here in the tropics, there are lots of things to consider but here are seven things to bear in mind before making the leap.
1. See Costa Rica at different times of the year
Come and spend the rainy season here. You will not know whether you can live here until you have seen Costa Rica during the height of the rainy season. Every person I have met that wants to come and move here, needs to know this very important fact. If you can love Costa Rica while the rains are here, you will be able to love it all year round.
2. Sort out a Costa Rican bank account
Do this before arriving or at least get the ball rolling with paperwork you will need. It is becoming harder and harder to open accounts in Costa Rica, so maybe try and find an international bank here. Once you are down here, you will end up paying huge amounts in charges from your foreign account so a bit of leg work early on will save you money and time in the long run.
3. Get yourself an air miles credit card
Get yourself an air miles credit card. You will save on trips back home, cashback and points. This is a real regret of mine! We travel back and forth to the UK once or even twice a year and if we had had the foresight to sort out an air miles credit card from London before deciding to make Costa Rica our home, we would have saved a bunch on flights.
4. Don’t rush to buy land or a business
Don’t rush to buy land or a business. Spend time here and really understand the implications. There will always be land for sale and there is no hurry to buy and build. Make sure to hire a really good lawyer who can explain the legalities of the parcel you are thinking of buying and tax implications. I really recommend spending time in a few different areas to get a feel for a place and give yourself comparisons.
5. Residency processes
Investigate what paperwork you will need for residency before leaving your country. It is a much more protracted process to arrange once you are in Costa Rica. Simple things like getting validated copies of your birth certificate become painful when happening far, far away in Costa Rica. Don’t forget that you do get a 90 day tourist visa when you first arrive, so come and get your research done over those months to work out whether you still want to move here
6. Do your research
Do your research. Read, read, read, blogs and ex pat books. There are lots of people just like me who have moved here and have some excellent tips. Take the time to read them and learn about the dusty roads off the beaten track in Santa Teresa or the heavy downpours in Puerto Viejo. You will pick up so much valuable information and also have fun reading different people’s experiences from making the leap.
7. Learn some Spanish!
It’s tough learning a language. Well it was for me anyway but there is nothing more rewarding and you will receive much more kindness from locals if you make the effort to communicate in Spanish. I did an audio course which really helped me with basic grammar and there is nothing like experience to develop your linguistic abilities. You will make lots of mistakes but then one day, things just fall into place and you speak Spanish.
Dahlia Nahome is the General Manager of Rancho Cielo.