Whether it’s the cold winters filled with snow shovelling, a new job offer, or the dream of retirement in a tropical paradise, Costa Rica is a welcoming haven for many expats. Bursting with culture, biodiversity, nature, beaches, and some of the best coffee in the world it’s no wonder that so many people visit and move to Costa Rica each year. Here are 10 ways to make your move from Canada to Costa Rica a warm, tropical breeze.

Dip Your Toe in the Water

Spend some time in Costa Rica as a tourist to look before you leap. Residents of Canada, the USA, Australia, France, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, and many other countries can explore for up to 90 days as a visitor so long as they have a valid passport. Just make sure it isn’t due to expire in the next six months to a year, depending on how long you plan on staying.

Try House Sitting

If you are looking for an easy way to save money and explore, consider house sitting. This will save you thousands of dollars on rent and allow you to explore the country. Be warned this isn’t for everyone, as some gigs will be days, while others will be weeks or months, and you will need to stay at hostels or hotels between gigs.

Set a Reasonable Budget

Set your budget with the knowledge that living near tourist destinations like beaches, mountain towns, and rainforests will cost more than other less trendy locations. Many say you can live comfortably in Costa Rica for between two and three thousand dollars a month. One budget friendly item many love about Costa Rica is the tax advantages it offers. Investors do not pay capital gains on real estate, high-interest bank accounts are tax free, and business taxes are low.

Figure out Where to Live

By exploring Costa Rica before your move, you can determine which region you want to live in. The towns that are most inhabited by expats are Atenas, Dominical, Escazu, Grecia, Jaco, Puerto Viejo and Tamarindo. Those who love the heat will likely want to live near the beach where temperatures reach the 90’s with high humidity. The rainforest regions have a slightly cooler temperature, in the 80’s. Those who want a more moderate temperature should consider living in the mountainous regions of the country.

Getting your Stuff There

There are two options for your move to Costa Rica and they are: just bringing a few suitcases, or having your items shipped in cargo containers. If you are planning on house sitting for your time in Costa Rica, you’ll probably just want to bring your own suitcases. If you have an empty apartment that you’re moving into you may want to ship your items, however many apartment rentals in Costa Rica come furnished. Note: pricing on furniture is a little higher in Costa Rica than it is in Canada, so keep this in mind when deciding what to ship and what to purchase locally.

Getting Around

Cars are quite expensive thanks to hefty import taxes; gas is also pricey in Costa Rica. Some people find it helpful to secure a longer-term rental car while figuring out the best transportation options for themselves. Note: Costa Rica has reliable and reasonably priced public transportation in many regions, including taxi cabs, with many people finding this to be the best way to get around.


Eating locally is easy in Costa Rica with many reasonably priced weekly farmers’ markets filled with local produce. In town you can eat local at a “soda” (restaurants serving standard Costa Rican cuisine) for five dollars or less. Other American restaurants are more expensive.

Staying Connected to Life Back Home

Costa Rica has highspeed internet, English TV cable and Satellite TV, and many English language newspapers and magazines to help you stay connected to life back home.

Your Pet Is Welcome

There are no mandatory quarantines for pets arriving in the country. Bringing your pet to Costa Rica is fairly easy. Simply provide a form filled out from your vet and proof that your pet has a valid rabies shot that was administered at least 30 days before arrival in the country.

Figuring out Visa Options

Visa options are aplenty for Costa Rica. If you don’t plan on working because you’re travelling, retired, or an international location-independent freelancer you can stick with the tourist visa and renew it after 90 days. The only catch is, after you renew it, you are required to leave the country (but this can be across any land border on a weekend getaway) and then return. Many people do this before applying for permanent residency. If you need to work or attend school in Costa Rica, there are several work, volunteer, and student permits available to apply for before your move.
Good luck exploring beautiful Central America as your new home!

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