And for those approaching retirement age (or already there), places like Costa Rica are looking better and better. Persons over age 65 make up one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population, and many hit retirement with modest pensions and little savings. For those on a budget, Costa Rica is a place to live well for less.
Of course, Costa Rica is no paradise, and in fact it may be a victim of its own popularity. Tourism has mushroomed into an industry sometimes at odds with environmental protection. The influx of foreign visitors and residents can strain basic infrastructure in this country of about 4.5 million. “We weren’t ready for all of you,” laughs Anabelle Furtado, a Costa Rica native who worked for the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). Economic hard times have meant cuts in previously flush social services, and locals complain that foreigners, with their easy spending habits, drive up prices on everything from pineapples to a four-bedroom house. And as in most other countries, crime and other social ills are on the rise.
Still, the benefits outweigh the problems. Costa Rica has an appealing combination of the exotic and the familiar. It’s a far-off land less than three hours by air from Miami, an international destination with a decidedly local feel, a sophisticated place where life is still fueled by basic human warmth.
Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Living Abroad in Costa Rica.