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Christopher Howard writes,
“Costa Rica appeals to people of all ages seeking to move to a
new and exotic land outside the States and Canada, as well as the energetic
entrepreneur, the burned-out baby boomer, those sick of long rush-hour
commutes and anyone seeking an alternative way of life. “

“Costa Rica is a place for people seeking economic opportunities and for
those who believe and are willing to seek something better in this world and
their lives.  A country that offers health care for the poorest of its people,
while providing free education for every child.  A place where where there
is abundant health, peace, prosperity and a country populated by the
‘happiest people in the world.’

You can even live longer by moving to Costa Rica.  Recently, NBC Prime
Time World News had a special about a group of centenarians who live in an
area located in Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. In fact, the country boasts
over 900 centenarians. Costa Ricans who reach the age of eighty have the
longest longevity rate in the world beyond that age. This is mostly due to
the lifestyle here. Many a foreigner who has moved here claims that ‘they
have added years to their lives and life to their years.’ Perhaps the country
will do the same for you? “

Chris has again updated his best selling book on moving, living and retiring in Costa Rica. Read informative portions of his new edition here on 1CostaRicaLink, by special permission from the author.

WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS BOOK

“If you’re fantasizing about living or retiring in Costa Rica, Christopher
Howard is the go-to guy.
—Sara Davidson, Oprah Magazine

“Chris is *the* expert on relocating to Costa Rica — that’s clear within
a few minutes of reading his book or spending any time with him.
For someone with his boundless knowledge and experience, he’s also
incredibly down to earth. For the neophyte, he really boils things down
and takes care in answering your questions and introducing you to every
major facet of life in this beautiful country. There’s no better way to get
introduced, settled and assimilated in Costa Rica than to have Chris as
your point man.”
—Peronet Despeignes, Fortune Magazine

“It’s full of VALUABLE information, paints a clear picture of what
life is like for foreigners living there and is very down to earth.”
—USA TODAY

“Another splendid comprehensive guide to making the break. The
BEST of several books geared to would-be residents. It leaves no stone
unturned.
—Christopher Baker, Costa Rica Handbook

“Mr. Howard makes it EASY for anyone to leave the ‘rat race.’ This is
by far the BEST guidebook on the subject.”
—Los Angeles Times

“This book is PACKED with PRACTICAL information for both retirees and tourists.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Potential residents of Costa Rica, shouldn’t leave home without
this guide.”
—Dallas Morning News

“The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica offers
loads of USEFUL information for the permanent resident.”
—Jack Reber, San Diego Union-Tribune


TABLE OF CONTENTS TO:
The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica

Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………….. xi
More About the Author………………………………………………………………xiii
Foreword………………………………………………………………………………….xxi
Introduction………………………………………………………………………….. xxxv

CHAPTER I
COSTA RICA’S LAND, HISTORY AND PEOPLE…………………………. 1

The Lay of the Land………………………………………………………………. 1
Maps…………………………………………………………………………………3-4
Weather……………………………………………………………………………….. 5
Costa Rica’s Unique History in Brief………………………………………… 6
Government…………………………………………………………………………. 7
Economy……………………………………………………………………………… 9
The People…………………………………………………………………………. 16

CHAPTER 2
WHERE TO LIVE IN COSTA RICA………………………………………….. 29

Central Valley……………………………………………………………………… 29
The Northern Zone…………………………………………………………….. 63
The Northern Pacific……………………………………………………………. 67
The Central Pacific………………………………………………………………. 81
The South Pacific………………………………………………………………… 92
The Caribbean Zone………………………………………………………….. 105

SPECIAL SECTION ON TOURS
Christopher Howard’s World Famous Relocation
and Retirement Tours…………………………………………………………. 109
Our Concierge Services………………………………………………………. 126

CHAPTER 3
SAVING MONEY IN COSTA RICA…………………………………………. 131

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Costa Rica?………………………. 131
Money…………………………………………………………………………….. 143
Banking……………………………………………………………………………. 144
Banking Terms………………………………………………………………….. 154
Tipping……………………………………………………………………………. 156
Paying Bills………………………………………………………………………. 157
Affordable Hired Help……………………………………………………….. 157
Health Care……………………………………………………………………… 162
Taxes……………………………………………………………………………….. 192
Panamanian (offshore) Corporations…………………………………….. 198
Insurance…………………………………………………………………………. 200

CHAPTER 4
MAKING MONEY IN COSTA RICA………………………………………… 205

Investing in Costa Rica……………………………………………………….. 205
Investment Opportunities According to Risk………………………….. 217
Finding Work……………………………………………………………………. 218
Starting a Business……………………………………………………………… 222
Common Business Sense in Costa Rica………………………………….. 225
Beware of the So-Called Experts and Overnight Gurus…………….. 229
What was one of the best ways to make money in Costa Rica…….. 232
The Yanquis are Coming…………………………………………………….. 235
Common Spanish Business Lingo…………………………………………. 239

CHAPTER 5
AN INTRODUCTION TO REAL ESTATE IN COSTA RICA……… 241

Housing and Real Estate Investments in Costa Rica…………………. 251
Buying Real Estate…………………………………………………………….. 258
How to locate a property…………………………………………………….. 259
Tico homes in tico neighborhoods………………………………………… 261
Value of land…………………………………………………………………….. 261
Price comparisons………………………………………………………………. 263
What is a perito………………………………………………………………….. 264
A word about beach property………………………………………………. 264
Finding a broker………………………………………………………………… 267
Due diligence – Tips before you actually make the purchase………. 272
Negotiating………………………………………………………………………. 274
Purchasing property…………………………………………………………… 277
Deposits and escrows………………………………………………………….. 279
Transferring title……………………………………………………………….. 280
Property taxes…………………………………………………………………… 281
New Tax on luxury homes…………………………………………………… 282
Squatters………………………………………………………………………….. 282
Building a home………………………………………………………………… 283
One local resident’s experience building a home……………………… 284
Commercial Real Estate………………………………………………………. 290
Financing…………………………………………………………………………. 290
Buying Real Estate in Costa Rica with IRA funds…………………….. 291
A sample of requirements for obtaining a loan………………………… 293
Speculating……………………………………………………………………….. 296
Helpful Real Estate publications…………………………………………… 301
Real Estate terms……………………………………………………………….. 302

CHAPTER 6
RED TAPE…………………………………………………………………………….. 307

Dealing with Bureaucracy……………………………………………………. 307
United States Embassy Services……………………………………………. 308
Purchasing an Automobile…………………………………………………… 315
Bringing a Car to Costa Rica……………………………………………….. 316
Calculating Taxes on a Vehicle……………………………………………… 318
Driving an Automobile to Costa Rica……………………………………. 321
Bringing Your Boat or Plane to Costa Rica…………………………….. 323
Shipping Your Household Goods to Costa Rica………………………. 324
Ways to Bring Your Belongings to Costa Rica…………………………. 328
How to Find a Lawyer………………………………………………………… 334
Costa Rica Business and Legal Sumary…………………………………… 339
How the Justice System Works in Costa Rica………………………….. 341
Wills and testamentos in Costa Rica……………………………………….. 345
Death of a friend or loved one overseas………………………………….. 348
Legal Terms……………………………………………………………………… 349
Costa Rican Consulates and Embassies Abroad……………………….. 354
Embassies and Consulates in Costa Rica………………………………… 357

CHAPTER 7
RESIDENCY AND RELATED MATTERS…………………………………. 359

How to Become a Legal Resident of Costa Rica……………………… 359
The New Immigration Law…………………………………………………. 361
Specific residency requirements…………………………………………….. 363
Methods of Obtaining Costa Rican Residency………………………… 373
Resident Cédula Renewal……………………………………………………. 375
IMMIGRATION AND OTHER MATTERS…………………………. 379
Work Permits………………………………………………………………. 379
Student Permits…………………………………………………………… 380
Perpetual Tourist…………………………………………………………. 381
Extending Your Stay…………………………………………………….. 382
Leaving the Country…………………………………………………….. 383
Children’s Exit Visas…………………………………………………….. 384
Costa Rican Citizenship………………………………………………… 385
Getting Married and Fiancée Visas………………………………….. 389
Getting Divorced…………………………………………………………. 390

CHAPTER 8
STAYING BUSY AND HAPPY IN COSTA RICA………………………… 391

Some Sound Advice……………………………………………………………. 391
English Books, Magazines and Newspapers…………………………….. 392
Television and Radio………………………………………………………….. 398
Video and DVD Rentals……………………………………………………… 400
Shopping………………………………………………………………………….. 400
Costa Rican Pastimes………………………………………………………….. 403
Golf………………………………………………………………………………… 405
Soccer is King in Costa Rica………………………………………………… 406
Museums and Art Galleries………………………………………………….. 409
Excellent Fishing……………………………………………………………….. 410
Pristine Beaches…………………………………………………………………. 412
Surfing and Diving…………………………………………………………….. 412
Boating……………………………………………………………………………. 413
Parks for Nature Lovers………………………………………………………. 414
Where to Make New Friends……………………………………………….. 416
Love and Permanent Companionship……………………………………. 420
A Walk on the Wild Side……………………………………………………… 431
Nightlife and Entertainment………………………………………………… 434
Gambling…………………………………………………………………………. 438
Movies and Theaters…………………………………………………………… 440

CHAPTER 9
COMMUNICATIONS……………………………………………………………. 445

Telephone Service…………………………………………………………….. 445
Internet Service…………………………………………………………………. 449
Mail Service……………………………………………………………………… 451
Receiving Money from Abroad…………………………………………….. 456
Private Mail Service……………………………………………………………. 458

CHAPTER 10
GETTING AROUND……………………………………………………………… 463

Air Travel to-in-and Around Costa Rica…………………………………. 463
Traveling by City Bus…………………………………………………………. 466
Bus Travel Around Costa Rica……………………………………………… 469
Bus Travel to and from Costa Rica………………………………………… 473
Traveling by Train……………………………………………………………… 473
Costa Rica’s Taxis………………………………………………………………. 477
Automobile Rentals……………………………………………………………. 481
Driving in Costa Rica…………………………………………………………. 481
Keeping Your Bearings Straight……………………………………………. 494

CHAPTER 11
EDUCATION………………………………………………………………………… 497

How to Learn Spanish………………………………………………………… 497
The Use of VOS………………………………………………………………… 502
Language Schools………………………………………………………………. 506
Costa Rica’s Institutions of Higher Learning………………………….. 512
Outstanding Private Schools………………………………………………… 516
Home Schooling and On-Line Study…………………………………….. 523

CHAPTER 12
MORE USEFUL INFORMATION…………………………………………… 527

Where to Find Affordable Foods………………………………………….. 527
Where to Eat…………………………………………………………………….. 532
Religion…………………………………………………………………………… 537
Costa Rica’s Holidays…………………………………………………………. 538
Bringing Your Pets in and out of Costa Rica…………………………… 539
Services for the Disabled……………………………………………………… 543
For Our Canadian Readers………………………………………………….. 544
Understanding the Metric System…………………………………………. 545

CHAPTER 13
PARTING THOUGHTS AND ADVICE……………………………………. 567

Personal Safety in Costa Rica……………………………………………….. 567
Handguns………………………………………………………………………… 574
Life as an Expatriate and Adapting………………………………………… 576
M.R.T.A. Overseas Adaptability Test…………………………………….. 591
Frequently Asked Questions………………………………………………… 592
Things Every Prospective Expatriate Should Know………………….. 602

CHAPTER 14
RESOURCES………………………………………………………………………… 605

Indispensable Sources of Information
about living in Costa Rica……………………………………………………. 605
Costa Rica Blogs……………………………………………………………….. 606
Discussion Groups……………………………………………………………… 607
Useful Web Sites………………………………………………………………. 609
Suggested Reading…………………………………………………………….. 610
Important Spanish Phrases and Vocabulary…………………………….. 616
Important Telephone Numbers……………………………………………. 620
Important Contact Information……………………………………………. 620
Major Governmental and Autonomous Institutions…………………. 628
Index……………………………………………………………………………….

THIS IS WHAT READERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THE BOOK

“FANTASTIC BOOK! Great, useful information for first-time visitors. A
real value at any price.” —Cory Brey, siesta Key Florida

“Your book is the most comprehensive, informative help I could find,
you have done a fine job.” —Niki Lesko

“I just read your book and hope to run into you someday so you can sign it!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a typical autograph hunter, you may remember
that I’m in corporate aviation? Thanks to the owner of the airplane and his
circle of friends, we fly the likes of Don Henly, Ann Richards, etc. around.
NEVER have I asked them to sign anything; you’re the first, my man! —
Hank Guichelaar

“I picked up your book about a year ago. I have found it very useful. Thanks
for providing a good insight into Costa Rica.” —William Baio

I received a copy of the “14th edition” from the library and was so
impressed that I have been telling everyone I know that they must own
this book!!. —William F. Wessely

“I have read your excellent book — the best I have read yet on the subject.
I am returning to Costa Rica after a 25-year absence and consider your book
an invaluable reference tool.” —Thomas Marino

“NEVER before have I been so thoroughly prepared for moving to a new
location as I was after reading — “The New Golden Door to Retirement
and Living in Costa Rica”—. In fact, after arriving here, I was utterly and
continuously amazed at how much valuable knowledge I had previously
obtained through reading this book. Furthermore,I find it indispensable
as a constant reference source for day-to-day operations. Subsequently I had
purchased two similar, popular guide books and after several attempts at trying
to read them, I find that they are incapable of holding my attention.” —Steve
Stickles, Heredia, Costa Rica

“I just picked up your book (The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living
in Costa Rica) and I LOVE it. My wife and I have had a long time dream to
someday retire (young) in paradise. It sounds like we have found our future
destination. Your book has been very helpful.” —Dan Graham

THE NEW GOLDEN DOOR TO RETIREMENT AND LIVING IN COSTA RICA -
a guide to inexpensive living, making money and finding love in a peaceful tropical paradise

Written by

Christopher Howard

With the help of Ryan Piercy
of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – TODOS DERECHOS RESERVADOS

sixteenth Edition
Published in Costa Rica
© 2010 Editora de Turismo Nacional, S.A.
Astro Enterprises, Pamama
ISBN 1-881233-66-9
Costa Rica Books
Suite 1 SJO 981
P.O. Box 025216
Miami, FL 33102-5216
www.costaricabooks.com
www.liveincostarica.com
www.amazon.com

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this book may be reproduced without written
permission of the authors and copyright owner.

TODOS DERECHOS RESERVADOS. Esta publicación está protegida por las
disposiciones legales de impresión y derechos de autor. Queda prohibido cualquier
tipo de reproducción, grabación o fotocopiado sin permiso escrito de los autores.

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