My 30ish nephew writes to express his excitement over the possibility of my move and then asks the kind of questions maybe others are also asking. He asks:
I am curious what all might be involved with the process of moving to another country. I’ve moved from one state to another within the mainland US a few times but that’s not the same. Just off the top of my head, I imagine moving to another country would require closing doors in one and opening doors in the other, like with getting rid of belongings, consolidating what will be kept, figuring out how to move things that cannot go on the same trip, closing accounts, opening new accounts, finding a new place to live, form of transportation, income, etc. It seems like the potentially scariest thing would be finding a source of income. I realized that, despite at the time (a few years ago) having enough money in savings to make such a move could have worked, I didn’t have any solid leads on job options at the places where I was looking into. I imagine some people move, then find work, although it would seem better to find work, then move, but that might prove to be pretty difficult.
Well, those are exactly the kinds of questions I am asking Sean and here is what I know now and where I’m getting my answers. Since I have already lived overseas before part of my answer is from experience!
- Absolutely! It is closing and opening doors, literally starting over again in many ways, somewhat like a move in the states but much more than a change of address, new driver license, and new friends!
- “Belongings” or most material things thing you must be willing to give up or store if you can afford storage. Shipping furniture or a car is expensive. I’m currently debating about my Zero Gravity Recliner and some of my grandmother’s furniture I would like to take, and may get shipping prices. But the truth is I will probably be able to buy anything brand new there cheaper than shipping from here. Maybe! And I know I won’t ship anything until I have rented for about a year to make sure it is right for me. Younger people sometimes find it easier to let go of “things.”
- For me the car will definitely go and I’ll start with an affordable used car in Costa Rica, maybe hope
Wildlife watching tour on Tortuguero River by Charlie
for a new one later. Cars cost about 30% more there. Though insurance may be cheaper and even some maintenance.
- Closing old accounts and opening new ones depends on many factors. When in The Gambia I kept my existing Credit Union accounts, debit card and two credit cards (not store cards). The world is small now and most banking and credit purchases are already managed online, meaning you can do it from anywhere in the world. In Gambia I did open a bank account locally and transferred money from my stateside account when needed. That gives more of a local presence that can be helpful.
- Finding a place to live is turning out to be fairly easy at lower prices than in the States. The August tour and my extra 4 days there will help firm up what I’m finding online. Right now, I’m thinking of getting a 6 month to 1 year apartment lease in the Central Valley, equal distances from all the rain-forests, mountains and beaches I love. Then I can better check out places to live in the other areas, before I settle down in one house, probably rental, but might consider a bargain purchase, though I’m thinking I will not be able to afford a purchase. I’ve been using my savings for trips. I had already decided to live the rest of my life here in the states in the rent house I’m currently in – so no big deal, just cheaper over there, if I decide to do it.
- Source of income is possibly the most important factor, a requirement to stay legally, and for you that means you must have a job or business and prove you can support yourself. My source of income is retirement income, not much, but will go much further there than in the states. I told you wrong earlier that you could not hold a job in Costa Rica because it would take jobs from Ticos (the endearing name for those born in Costa Rica). That applies only to retirees like me who will benefit from their Pensionado program that makes me one of their retirees, getting discounts on everything from medical care to movie tickets. You can work for someone, start a local business, invest in property, or have an online business as some I’m reading about do. You will have to become a legal resident after 3 or 6 months and keep the Visa up-to-date, which should be no problem with thousands doing it.
- Legal documents start with your U.S. Passport and a 3-month Visa which can be extended until you get the equivalent of their “Green Card” for working or apply for dual citizenship.
- Learning Spanish is not absolutely required, but needed to relate to locals which you will want to do. Unlike the United States, most people around the world know multiple languages and English is common in Costa Rica, especially the city, plus the 50,000 plus expat community mostly speak English. (Teach them music?)