Over the past ten years, there have been many exchanges between myself and clients or would-be clients about the advantages of living in Costa Rica vs other so-called popular countries recommended by such sources as International Living. The list includes but is not limited to Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia and Uruguay.
Inquirers initiated some of these conversations before they even set foot in any of the countries mentioned, including Costa Rica. Others were by infrequent visitors to Costa Rica who were surprised at the cost of living here being higher than they expected.
My suggestion remains the same. Travel to the alternative country or countries that hold interest, roam about, ask a lot of questions, especially of ex-pats there, do some transactions there, then come back to Costa Rica to compare and contrast. I would also strongly suggest auditing information sources that recommend these other countries. Based on a lot of client feedback, the differences seem quite stark. The overwhelming majority of “explorers” end up choosing Costa Rica. It’s kind of a you-get-what-you-pay-for reality.
Panama seems the country closest in comparison to Costa Rica. It boasts better tax incentives, more relaxed and economic immigration processes, and more efficient bureaucracy. Panama City, without a doubt, is a fascinating global hub that has a far more cosmopolitan downt0wn area than San Jose, Costa Rica. A great place to bank and to visit from time to time. Step outside that extremely hot and humid city and the quality of life drops off significantly. The ubiquitous soldiers also prove disquieting. The majority of clients who have given Panama serious consideration have quickly settled upon Costa Rica as their final choice for a retirement venue. Yes. It is more costly. But overall better value. They concluded that Costa Rica is more secure, has a wider variety of places to live or travel within the country and has the best year-round weather by far. A friendlier populace with no army also provides a more peaceful feeling. The COVID-19 mortality rate in Panama as of this writing is five times that of Costa Rica.