Costa Rica

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My tour of Costa Rica is done, at least for now.

Please SEARCH FOR ‘Costa Rica‘ to find all of my Postings, Travel Budgets and Retirement Reviews.

I am sure that there are many great places in Costa Rica and that this is demonstrated by the number of expats from North America who already call Costa Rica Home.

HOWEVER, Costa Rica is too expensive for GRANDPAckers.

Meanwhile, here is some general information not already covered in my postings …


Costa Rica is highly Americanized and is NOT ideal for budget travellers. The “high prices” can be a surprise, particularly because a lot of websites seem to (falsely?) list Costa Rica as a cheap destination.

The reality is that the costs in Costa Rica are close if not often identical to those in Western developed countries. Tours and activities hit your wallet hard.

USA retirees have flocked here for years, drawn by its mild climate, prosperity, literacy rate, health care, and, significantly, stable government. The country offers micro-climates, so you can fine-tune your weather by moving up and down the hills.

Though not the bargain it was a decade ago, Costa Rica continues to draw moderate-to-high-income retirees, who meet the country’s requirement of income of $1,000 per month from Social Security or a pension. The best part is that residence is easy enough that just about anybody can do it. Residents are eligible to join the universal health-care system, known as Caja. The cost, based on income, can be as low as $49 a month. After that, care is free.


In Costa Rica’s far southern Pacific coast, down near the border with Panama, is a trio of towns that have become quite an expat haven in recent years. These are Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal.

Those who move to this area find a welcoming community of retirees, with several clubs, activities, and volunteer opportunities offering a way to integrate into social life.

While the Southern Zone is facing an increase in visitors and long-term residents, it’s all relative. Actual numbers are still low, and the development is not overpowering the views. Services, amenities, and infrastructure, however, are much improved.

A two-bedroom condo, furnished, with an ocean-view rents for $1,000 a month.


Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is much less travelled than its Pacific Coast. But, for Costa Rica budget travellers, that’s usually a good thing: cheaper prices, less crowds, and underexplored natural attractions.

Puerto Viejo (PV):

Puerto Viejo (Old Port) is the only place that I chose to stay. I was en route to Bocas del Toro, Panama.

I checked out all of the beaches from PV to Manzanillo.

Santa Teresa:

The Santa Teresa and Mal Pais area is filled with excellent surf camps, yoga studios and lots of great Israeli food if too much Costa Rican rice and beans starts to get to you.

The dream digital nomad lifestyle here is to surf the morning high tide, work through the heat of the day in your air-conditioned villa, then surf the evening high tide. If you want a little more hustle and bustle, a few hours north is surfer’s paradise Tamarindo (home to Witch’s Rock from the classic surf film Endless Summer) and on the Caribbean coast Puerto Viejo is also a great spot for digital nomads who love to surf and listen to lots of reggae. Best Time of Year: November to March


Costa Rica has become over-priced as a GRANDPAcking retirement destination and the government is slowly dismantling the Retiree Benefits offered 20 years ago.

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