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Retiring in Costa Rica: Pros and Cons You Should Know

Retirement anywhere is a fresh start, and retiring in Costa Rica in particular will bring color into your life thanks to the natural beauty in the form of forests, beaches, and towering mountains. However, retiring overseas could also have some drawbacks such as language barrier or cultural adjustment.

In this blog post by Pacific Prime Latin America, we will be discussing the pros and cons you should know about retiring in Costa Rica so that you are informed of certain drawbacks like varying healthcare costs and benefits such as affordable living or diverse expat communities.

Pros: Retiring in Costa Rica

From diverse natural beauty thanks to mountains and beaches to expat communities allowing you to make new friends, Costa Rica has something for everyone looking to retire there. Below are some notable pros of retiring in Costa Rica.

Diverse Community of Expats

Costa Rica is a popular retirement destination among expats, and the large number of retirees in the area allows you to foster camaraderie with other people undergoing the same stages of life.

This is good news, especially for retirees going through retirement stress as a result of adjustment difficulties.

Affordable Living Costs

In comparison to other Western countries, the cost of living in Costa ranging from housing to groceries is relatively inexpensive. For instance, a 3-bedroom/2-bathroom house will cost around USD $500-$1,200 in Costa Rica but USD $1,000-$3,000 in the US.

Note: Do keep in mind that prices can fluctuate between different housing companies and real estate companies, so please do your research before selecting your house of choice for retiring in Costa Rica.

Natural Beauty

One of the biggest reasons expats choose to retire in Costa Rica is its natural beauty. This can be seen in the rainforests, beaches, national parks, and mountains. This offers you the opportunity to live with nature in harmony should you need to take breaks from the hustle and bustle of the city.

You will also be happy to know that Costa Rica is highly committed to environmental conservation, ensuring its natural wonders remain unharmed, and ready to welcome expats with open arms.

 A “Pura Vida” Lifestyle

Costa Ricans are known for their friendly, welcoming “Pura Vida” (Spanish for pure life) lifestyle, embracing slow pacing and positivity. Since you’re already making friends through the community of expats in Costa Rica, this lifestyle choice will help foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie.

Cons: Retiring in Costa Rica

While retiring in Costa Rica opens up numerous possibilities for making new friends thanks to the expat community and the opportunity to explore the natural beauty throughout, there may be some drawbacks such as a language barrier or difficulty in adjustment for some.

Below are notable cons of retiring in Costa Rica:

Language Barrier

The most glaring drawback of retiring in Costa Rica is the potential language barrier, as Spanish is the main language in the country. While English may be spoken sometimes, it may be difficult for non-Spanish speakers to interact with certain government offices, healthcare, or local services.

This is where the expat community comes in. Assuming you made friends with expats who have lived in Costa Rica for long enough, you can enlist their help in teaching you Spanish so that you can communicate throughout your daily life much more efficiently.

Cultural Adjustment

Moving abroad for retirement will take some getting used to for expats. This could involve aspects of daily life such as social norms or general shopping habits.

Fortunately, thanks to the expat community, they can guide you through the Costa Rican lifestyle so you can adapt quicker and easier.

Potential Healthcare System Differences Across Regions

Despite having a reputed public healthcare system, healthcare quality in Costa Rica can vary across regions and access to advanced medical treatments may be limited in remote areas.

Due to inconsistent healthcare quality and distribution as well as potentially long waiting times in the public healthcare sector, expats opt for private healthcare due to greater quality care, shorter waiting times, and added benefits such as amenities.

Depending on where they come from, some retirees could also feel the standards of healthcare in Costa Rica might not match the healthcare standards they were accustomed to back in their home country.


In conclusion, while some drawbacks such as language barrier and cultural adjustment or healthcare inconsistencies exist when retiring in Costa Rica, the benefits such as company from the expat community, affordable living, the peaceful lifestyle, and natural beauty more than make up for it.

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As an international health insurance broker, Pacific Prime Latin America has garnered experience in helping match both expats and local citizens to a health insurance plan that matches both their budget and unique healthcare needs.

Whether you’re an expat retiring in Costa Rica or a local citizen yourself, our team of experts will be more than happy to help you out. And if you have any further questions, please get in touch with us and get a free quote.

Content Writer at Pacific Prime Latin America
Wish Sutthatothon (Nickname: Guy) is currently a content writer at Pacific Prime Thailand, an insurance broker that connects individuals and businesses with insurance providers worldwide. He creates and edits blog articles, guides, reports, webpages, and other types of digital content.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts, Media & Communication major (concentration: Creative Content) from Mahidol University International College (MUIC). During the compulsory major elective period in the summer of 2021 and voluntarily during the summer of 2022, he also interned as a video and photo editor at Mbrella Films.

He has experience working as an English Content Writer at a real estate buying/renting/selling platform in Thonglor. There, he crafted company blog posts on a multitude of topics. Topics include market trends, legal issues and disputes in property businesses, financial guides, expat guides, home insurance, home decoration and maintenance, and weekly real estate news quick-recaps. Occasionally, as part of the blog-writing process, he would also translate existing Thai blogs to English.

In his free time, Guy enjoys doing scriptwriting and storytelling for comic strips, watching movies, and listening to music (particularly film scores).
Wish Sutthatothon