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Costa Rica has been a popular travel destination for North Americans for years. With its natural beauty, affordable cost of living, and foreigner-friendly attitude, it’s easy to see why this tropical, Central American nation has become a major North American expat community. Here are just a few of the many reasons that North Americans are flocking to this magnificent country.
1. The Diverse Climate
With its tropical climate, average temperatures range almost year round in the low to high 70s. Due to its diverse geography, Costa Rica is home to beaches, mountains, jungles, forests, valleys and plains, and you can find a wide array of varying temperatures and humidity levels depending on where you settle. A popular destination for North American expats is the northern province of Guanacaste, whose warm climate and extensive coastlines are ideal for escaping frigid winters.
2. High Quality, Affordable Healthcare
Medical tourism is a phrase that describes people from countries with severely high medical costs, such as the United States, traveling to foreign nations to receive their medical care. This term applies perfectly to Costa Rica, where North Americans have been traveling for years to get high quality medical and dental procedures performed for a fraction of the cost back home. You can get almost any medical procedure performed in Costa Rica for a third to a fifth of what it would cost in the States. Most medical professionals speak English, and some even accept US health insurance. Costa Rica’s government health insurance is also available to expats and is extremely affordable.
3. Inviting and Exciting Local Culture
Costa Ricans are very friendly, and because of the large expat community that exists already, North Americans deciding to vacation or retire here will feel right at home. Costa Ricans have a pura vida, meaning pure life, mentality. They are very easy going, open and social. The guitar is a popular instrument in Costa Rica, and the marimba is the national instrument. Salsa and merengue are two popular forms of music enjoyed by foreigners and locals alike.
4. Rich Wildlife
Costa Rica is known around the world for its rich animal and plant life. Despite occupying only 0.1% of the world’s landmass, Costa Rica holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity. And it’s here to stay. Costa Rica holds the distinction of having the greatest portion of its land under protection, a whopping 25%. Some of the more exotic and beautiful creatures which inhabit this tropical nation are the red-eyed tree frog, the Geoffroy’s spider monkey and the three-toed sloth.
5. Low Cost of Living
Costa Rica is an excellent place for North Americans to travel to or retire, because it offers most of the comforts of a developed nation, but at a fraction of the cost. Consumer prices in Costa Rica are on average 20.61% lower than in the United States. Like going out to eat? Restaurant prices are even better, with the average restaurant price being 32.54% lower than in the United States.
6. Joining an Established North American Expat Community
Costa Rica is home to a well-established community of American and Canadian expats, with well over 50,000 living in-country right now. And this trend is growing. According to the US State Department, the number of US citizens who are collecting their Social Security checks in Costa Rica has jumped 67% since 2002.
7. A Million Things to Do
You’ll never be bored when in Costa Rica. Along the coast, one can go snorkeling, diving, deep sea fishing, or scuba diving in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean or the calm waters of the Caribbean. Inland, there is hiking in the hillier regions, perhaps to the top of Arenal Volcano, or strolling in the forests to go bird watching for some of Costa Rica’s exotic fowl.
8. You’re Never Far from Home
Costa Rica truly is a tropical paradise, and once you get here it is unlikely that you’ll ever want to leave. But of course, if homesickness should ever hit, the States are just a quick plane ride away. The capital, San José, is a major airport hub, and has flights to such major American cities as Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York going in and out frequently. Other major airports can be found in regional capitals of Liberia, Quepos and Puerto Jiménez. Airfare is very affordable, with average flights from Costa Rica to the United States and Canada being only a few hundred dollars.
With its beautiful and forgiving climate, welcoming atmosphere, and more than affordable health care and cost of living, Costa Rica is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to move south and enjoy the good life.