International Living finally gets it right by selecting Costa Rica as the best place to retire abroad

For many years International Living and its related services have been considered “the source” for those seeking to live or retire abroad.

Recently, they published their 26th Annual Global Retirement Index edition that ranks the top 10 countries for living a happier and healthier life. The ranking is done by a team of International Living contributors who cover five continents, expats that have experienced life in different countries. The list of best places to retire in the world takes into consideration different aspects such as security, cost of living, climate, healthcare, etc.

This news is old to me since I have known all along that Costa Rica is by far the best place to live since I moved here almost 40 years ago and started a successful relocation business ( Thousands of other expats who have relocated here have obviously come to the same conclusion. No wonder why Costa Rica has more American residents proportionately than any other country outside of the U.S.

According to International Living’s ranking,  Costa Rica moved from number 4 in 2017 to the first spot this year. Here are the country’s that round out the top ten:  Mexico in 2nd place, Panama (3), Ecuador (4), Malaysia (5), Colombia (6), Portugal (7), Nicaragua (8), Spain (9), and Peru (10).

As stated in the report from IL.

“North Americans have been flocking to Costa Rica for more than 30 years, attracted by the tropical climate; cost of living; top-notch, affordable medical care; bargain real estate; and natural beauty.

“In Costa Rica, you can kick your shoes off on white-sand beaches, hike through lush lowland jungle or mountain cloud forests, and bask in volcanic thermal springs. Rent a furnished two-bedroom local style home for just $500 a month, buy an ocean-view condo for $200,000, spend $25 at the feria (farmers’ market), and come home with a week’s groceries for a couple….”

During the almost the time that I have lived here I have realized that Costa Rica offers more choices and areas to fit one’s particular lifestyle than any other country south of the border. Add to this fact that there is NO terrorism, no military. No wonder, the country is neutral, has no enemies and is an “island of tranquility and peace in a mad world”.

IL’s review also highlights, security, a good modern healthcare coverage, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the variety of climates and landscape and lifestyle that goes with it:

“For such a small country, Costa Rica also packs a punch when it comes to a variety of climates and landscape and the lifestyle that goes with it. You’ll find expats living in the eternal spring climate of the mountainous Central Valley. This is rural and small-town Costa Rica, where expats live in towns like Grecia and Atenas amid coffee plantations and forested hillsides. From their terraces, they enjoy coffee from local beans and views of the surrounding countryside areas” . That’s why it really has always topped on the list of expat retirement and relocation havens.”

“Some people prefer life at the beach towns like Tamarindo and Playas del Coco,  the Central Pacific or farther south on the Pacific coast, where you will discover rainforest-covered mountains, small coastal villages like Ojochal and Dominical, and the wild seaside of the Southern Zone. In the Central Pacific, you have fun beach communities like Jacó and Los Sueños where you can find one of the largest full-service marinas in the country plus the conveniences of the country’s capital, San José, an hour and a half down the road. The bohemian and undeveloped Caribbean, including towns like Cahuita and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, may be the most Pura Vida of all places in Costa Rica. You also have Lake Arenal, a highlands region known for a mild climate and rural charms; life on the lake is quiet and peaceful, with a close-knit expat community.”

“Even though Costa Rica isn’t the cheapest country listed in the International Index Best Places to Retire Index, it states that it offers “Excellent bang for your buck”…” It’s possible for a retired couple to live very comfortably on $2,500 a month in Costa Rica. On this budget, they might eschew the “fancy” grocery store with imported goods in favor of the feria (outdoor farmer’s market), where they can fill the fridge for the week for $30. Instead of hitting up the tourist restaurants that charge a premium, they might go to local sodas, restaurants serving up hearty Tico fare. But combine those cost-saving measures with the modest expenditures required on healthcare, rental homes, and utilities (no heating costs, and no cooling costs at least in Arenal and the Central Valley) and you can see how a good life can come at a modest price”.

On the downside, if you can really call it that and in summary as stated in IL magazine:

As the author of IL’s article states, “The land of Pura Vida isn’t for everyone. In my time there, I had my share of struggles with bureaucracy and the flip side of Pura Vida—a relaxed attitude toward getting things done. But as a safe haven of civility in these complicated times, Costa Rica is that fascinating, solid, and dependable guy at the party who doesn’t feel the need to shout.”

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