I’m an Official Resident of Costa Rica Today!

It is a longer number to memorize than my Passport,
but it will become my most important number now.
And of course the typical “bad photo” on all such cards!
But a nice hard plastic card with electronic strip on back.

Next I get a gold card for senior adults to ride on bus for free (Yay!) and other discounts. 

Then I will get a Costa Rica Driver License and I’m done for two years! 
In two years I renew this residency card, called a CEDULA here, and then three years after that I renew a second time for what will become my permanent residency card or Cedula. 
Note that my card says “Residente Pensionado” which is for retired foreigners who have a particular set of requirements. There are other categories of residency that have different requirements with people coming here to start a local business having the most complicated requirements. For me, I just had to promise to not take some Tico’s job (I cannot work for a local business) but I could earn money on the internet if I wanted to. And secondly I have to prove that I have income of at least one thousand dollars a month which is done with a Social Security form from the U. S. Embassy. Then the usual paperwork and red tape stuff and qualify for the government healthcare program which I am required to participate in whether I use it or not (called CAJA). It is all done now for me and I’m a legal resident! And fully covered for all medical expenses! Not a worry in the world!  🙂
For those considering it, I can’t imagine doing it without an attorney! And I really needed him today! I was suppose to bring the receipt where I paid for the first month of CAJA and forgot it! He managed to smooth talk the girl in inmigración and she let it slide. I couldn’t have done that! Plus my Spanish is not good enough to carry on this kind of business by myself.

And Someone Asks . . .

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!

  1. 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!
  2. “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.” 
  3. 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. 

  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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. 
  8. 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?)
Hope that sort of answered your questions Sean. Though most are retirees from the U.S., there are a lot of young adults making a living in Costa Rica. It can be done. Music there will be different in some ways, but they do love their music! All kinds!
Now I’ve already referred to the Live In Costa Rica Tour and his many books. The main one is The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica by Christopher Howard which is available on Amazon.com. That is where you would want to start if considering this.You’ll also find many other expats writing books about moving to Costa Rica if you desire more.