Transition to Costa Rica
Story and Photos by John Sutherland
All photos copyright © John Sutherland
More than two years ago I had concluded my search for a retirement home and decided that I would move to Costa Rica. Recently I was asked why it was that I had chosen Costa Rica, why I stayed, and what life was like for me since my arrival. The reasons for my move and the decision to stay are entirely different. Let me first offer suggestions as to why I came here.
Like most Americans who contemplate this change, I did Internet and library research, not all of which were credible or current, and some of which was just rehashed rumor that had, unfortunately, made it to print.
Motives for relocation amongst most expats I know were primarily economic. Many were living solely on social security. Those who receive supplemental retirement income tended to be in a better financial position to contend with unforeseen difficulties. Most of the men relocating to Costa Rica were divorced, widowed or single. Some were open to the possibility being able to start a new relationship, even at this stage of their lives.
This does not mean, of course, that only low or middle-
I had heard from various sources about the beauty of Costa Rica, the lush beaches, and a host of wildlife. From all reports, I also came to believe that I could live comfortably on my retirement income. I was persuaded as well by the availability of quality medical care and the easy accessibility to the United States, should there be a medical or family emergency.
Some of the caveats I had to consider about medical care were that the best is often very costly for someone living on a limited budget, and Medicare is not accepted anywhere in this country. For vets with service connected disorders or disabilities, free medical care for those disabilities or disorders is available through the VA Foreign Medical Program. Other retired vets would find that the numbers of doctors who would accept TRICARE is small.
Aside from the medical concerns, there were also economic destructors. From the outset,
I know that my decision as to where to move had to make economic sense; and challenging
my belief about Costa Rica was Panama, just to the south. Panama is a country working
very hard to attract retirees by offering well-
Moreover, instead of charging expats a premium at national parks, as does Costa Rica,
Panama offers 30% discounts on almost everything, even airfare. Rather than charging
an astronomical 50% tariff for the importation of cars, Panama allows a new car to
be imported tax-