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Costa Rica Tops The List For Best Places To Retire In 2018

Aug. 01, 2018 2:47 PM ET28 Comments
Financial Sense profile picture
Financial Sense

By FS Staff

Dan Prescher from International Living says Costa Rica ranks as their number 1 spot for the "World's Best Places to Retire" Index in 2018.

“It just has almost everything going for it,” Prescher said. “It’s a very peaceful place. The character of the Costa Rican people is cooperative, non-confrontational, and just pleasant to get along with.”

And, most importantly, for those looking to lower their cost of living, it's “very affordable,” he told Financial Sense Newshour listeners last week.

Deciding on Living Abroad

Moving out of the United States for retirement isn’t for everyone, Prescher noted. There are three things anyone should do to figure out if the choice is right for them.

First, those considering the move need to research everything exhaustively. The Internet has changed the entire equation, Prescher noted. Now, retirees have a massive amount of resources to help with research and can figure out how much it will likely cost to live in various areas within a new country.

Second, potential ex-pats also need to profile themselves and take into account the logistics of living abroad. One of the attractive aspects of Costa Rica is the relative logistical ease of returning to the United States, should a trip back become necessary.

Those considering a move abroad need to figure out if making the move is right for them. Can they tolerate the change in conditions? Will they miss anything that’s vital to their happiness if they move abroad?

After these questions are answered, the third step is to try before you buy, meaning retirees need to have a trial run living in-country for a period of time before they elect to buy property or become full-time residents.

Ultimately, though, the opportunities of economic arbitrage can give retirees a chance to live in relative comfort and

This article was written by

Financial Sense profile picture
Cited by Barron's as one of the top financial websites to visit on the weekend, Financial Sense (www.financialsense.com) provides educational resources to the broad public audience through a daily podcast, editorials, current news and resource links on salient financial market issues. Begun in 1985 as a local talk radio program, Financial Sense Newshour (www.financialsense.com/financial-sense-newshour) is a weekly webcast with host Jim Puplava and top financial thinkers. Writing staff of Financial Sense includes: Jim Puplava, Chris Puplava, Ryan Puplava, and Cris Sheridan.

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Comments (28)

some great spots to retire will probably islands like Sardinia, Corsica, Malta or Sicily - all in the blue clear water of the Mediterranean.
Good Afternoon Chancer....

Lived there for four years. My observations in the 1996-2000 time frame were the following:

1... Crime is a problem "in the evening hours". One should "not" travel "alone" but in groups....
2... Poor mostly live under the bridges and pan for money from travelers ....
3... Cars need a security car lock provided by the Israeli [Armor??] company there ....
4... Grocery shopping can be a issue if/when females shop alone as some grocery stores have two to three guards [parking lot, outside store, in the store]....
5... Costa Rica has "three" hospitals and only one [after visiting them all] woulds be acceptable....
6... Streets are not named and everyone uses "landmarks" as a guide. Our pizza delivery used a "older" marker to locate us....
7... Owning can be difficult as "most" of their Municipal housing documents were destroyed in a fire. If someone wants to challenge you, after you buy, you could have a serious problem....
8... Medical/Dental treatment is "cheap" but any serious situations will make you return to the states as Costa Rica does not recognize Medicare....
9... If/when political parties change, the cab drivers and police trade places and do the current job....

1... Some very good volcano's to visit and take pictures of....
2... Great Restaurants and food....
3... Main roads generally in fair repair. Since they continually have a money problem [mostly all of the time], only the politicians roadways really get fully repaired. Others, with holes in the roads awaiting repair, have tree's and plants in the holes. Drivers need to be very careful when driving at night. Any speeding by any driver, hitting a hole not readily seen, will damage the front end [shocks +]....
4... Temperatures are great. Outdoor thermometers [day and night] are locked [normally] between 72-75 degree's....
5... It rains, normally, between 12-3 every day so any outside planning can easily be accommodated....
6... From San Jose to the closest ocean point is normally 2-3 hours depending when one decides to take the trip....
7... Railroads no longer exist. "Trucking" is now used and this tends to slow us down a bit....
8... Maids and Gardners are available at very low cost. Most of the Americans there have both....
9... Airport in San Jose was excellent for travel to some of the resorts should one want to visit them.
Playa Tambor would be a excellent choice [IMHO] to investigate. You can get there by driving to a ferry and then another short drive [6-7 hours] or fly....

If you live there, or are contemplating a trip there, one should take notice of the total environment and make their own individual assessment. Since I visited there some years ago, I am sure some changes have occurred....

One single opinion of the many I am sure....

Have a "GREAT" week....
Live Long and Prosper....

Best Regards,
Roger Salus profile picture
I started a topical SA blog post a couple months ago for anyone who's interested.

It gives my brief impression of Boquete, Panama. The comments section is open to anyone who has questions, or who wants to share stories, advice, or helpful links.

Check it out, if you're interested in this subject:

My forebears made too many sacrifices in helping build the USA for me to move to another country for financial reasons.
Many times people are eager to give retirement abroad but end up returning back to the USA. Before one moves to a foreign nation, make sure you spend a few months there first and see if you fit it. It's not easy building a new life in a foreign alien city. Living abroad or in certain countries is not as the paradise pictured in TV shows.
While many expats may not find paradise, many of those returning are doing so for family (new grandchild) or health (dementia) reasons. That is to be expected and is normal
It is mainly for quality of life issues and not adjusting to the new environment. I idea of being an expat eventually wears off and one longs for home and those friends and family left behind . One cannot live abroad long without family and friends and a great quality of life.
With "One cannot" you probably meant "I cannot". Luckily this is different for everyone.

simply_learning profile picture
sign me up!
Agree. Getting old - safety is at the top of the list. Strikes Mexico down. Moves CR waay down, if you understand local situation there now, with central americans setting camp there. Poor list.
Lallemand profile picture
I live very happily in Portugal, considered the 3rd safest country in the world, after Iceland (but the climate in Iceland...) and NewZealand (but so far away from anywhere).
Safety = wealth. It should have much more impact on research outcome like presented here.

Italy in the top 10?? Lol...I left Italy many years ago and only go back briefly as a tourist. The euro to $ conversion and high cost of living is the major negative, on the Plus side is “Socialized Helthcare.
Here is the budget I live on in Costa Rica
AlanInTempe profile picture

Nice write-up on your Costa Rica budget. That was interesting and educational to read. I did, however, find one of your side comments about how others miscalculate the cost of car ownership to be misleading. Since I could not find a place for comments on your site, I will describe it here.

You said, "people will leave out the purchase price and depreciation costs for their car. They might include the gas, oil, taxes and maintenance, but leave out the $25k they spent to buy the car and the $2000 a year in depreciation as the car gets older."

It seems like you are suggesting that the purchase price and depreciation costs are added together to get to the real cost of a car (before taxes, maintenance, gas, etc.). However, the depreciation is really the total cost of the car (ignoring the time value of money). If a car costs $25K and depreciates $10K over, say, five years, then the car can be sold for $15K, leaving the total cost to the original owner at $10K. In theory, a 5 year lease on that vehicle should have payments totaling $10K plus some interest.
Thank you for reading and you comments. I find people with cars fail to consider the initial purchase price and ongoing purchases when comparing living without a car. So, say you buy a new $25k every five years (roads are rough here, forget about the salvage value for simplicity) so you need to save $5000 a year to accomplish that. I find most people only report the $200 a month for gas and repairs and ignore the other $100 of saving needed to be ready for the next replacement. It is like their parents give them $25k every 5 years for Christmas. So, a newbie to CR with $200/m for auto expenses lands in CR without $25k to buy a new car would be screwed. I find the same misreporting concerning housing. I see where a person is living in CR on $1000/m and I am thinking I pay $600 alone in rent and I come to find out they bought a $200k house and have no rent. They don't report the missing income from cashing in their $200k IRA .
AlanInTempe profile picture
"say you buy a new $25k every five years (roads are rough here, forget about the salvage value for simplicity) so you need to save $5000 a year to accomplish that."

You completely missed my point. To buy a new $25K car every 5 years only requires $2K/year if the depreciation is $10K. That is, you pay $25K and get $15K for your 5 year old car, needing only $10K more to get the new car. The depreciation is ALL you spend in the purchase of a car.
Perhaps I missed it, but this study ignores crime and violence. Any 2018 retirement list where Mexico comes in second has to be questioned given the crime there.
Chancer profile picture
I have heard the crime rate in Costa Rica is high which fits with all of Central America.
Panzerman profile picture
Chancer....right you are. The entire area of Central America is crime ridden. Some are very high crime such as El Salvador and Honduras, some are less such as Panama. But all in all, what no realtor or anybody that is trying to sell you a dream will tell you, there is a lot of crime in Latin America. Ive lived there a decade, saw it all around me and scary stories from expats all over.
Roger Salus profile picture
Central America has a much higher crime rate than most places in the world, yet much like the USA, or most anywhere else, it depends largely on what neighbourhood you're in and how involved you are in the drug trade.

I've traveled extensively throughout C America, and never once felt threatened. The two scariest cities I've been to are Chicago and Athens. LA wasn't a comforting experience, either.
Panzerman profile picture
International Living........ Don't fall for their hype. They have been putting out these yearly best place to retire for decades. Their decisions are strongly biased as to who is paying them the best kickback to recommend them. For example, they recommend Attorney's and Real Estate companies who they deem good to deal with. In reality, these recommended parties pay International Living for their referrals. How do I know this?.... I have lived for years in Panama, Colombia and spent considerable time in Costa Rica. I have spoken to some of these "recommended" attorney's and they explained to me how the process works. Be careful.
My unbiased recommendation is to ignore all these people trying to help you...because it comes at a price, and just go to the country you are interested in. Stay a month or two and see what you think. Do NOT buy anything until you have lived there for 6 months or more. The real estate prices in most of these places are already much higher than you are lead to believe, unless you plan on slumming it. Go to the grocery store and you will be shocked at the prices unless you plan on living on rice, beans and chicken thighs all the time you are there.
Go there, see the place and stay a few months before you buy anything or do anything rash.
Zanby profile picture
I fully agree with Penzerman points.
I lived in the Philippines and Panama and didn’t like them. I also went to Colombia, Morocco, Thailand and others ...
Unless you are willing to skip a meal, don’t go there and don’t believe this International Living!
I am back in the US for good, now 😁
Agreed fully, Z and P-Man....My wife and I were enthusiastic about retiring to the Philippines several years ago....until we spent two months there! On line and published information is insufficient ; potential ex-pats need to be on the ground to obtain experiential feelings.

One more factoid: if you live in Manila, prices are not that different than the states. If you reside in the "boondocks," you can live much more cheaply, but, as one Internet commentator remarked, he would rather live in reduced circumstances in the U.S. than in what is essentially a third world country.

I was never so grateful as when my international PAL flight touched down at SFO. I had not been a flag-waving patriot until then.....
What exactly is the link with the investment website it's posted on?

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